Former trooper denies domestic assault charges
BRATTLEBORO — A former Vermont State Police trooper pleaded not guilty Friday to five criminal charges that he assaulted his former fiancee and threatened to kill her and their dog during a jealous rage two years ago at their Putney home.
The incidents came to light last month when Roel Yoncin Diaz, 32, now of Brooklyn, N.Y., reapplied to the Vermont State Police. A routine background check turned up the information for the first time during a detective's interview with the former fiancee.
Diaz had resigned two years ago in July 2017, several months after the alleged February 2017 incidents, for unspecified personal reasons.
At Friday's arraignment, Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver asked Windham Superior Court Judge John Treadwell to hold Diaz without bail, saying his victim was in fear for her life and there was no way to protect her if Diaz was released. Treadwell agreed.
Shriver said there were photographs and an audio recording of the assault, which the woman recorded on a second, secret phone. State police detectives wrote in their affidavit of probable cause that they could hear the sound of someone being slapped or hit.
Diaz was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, a felony that carries a potential 15-year sentence, two counts of domestic assault, interference with access to emergency services, and stalking. Only one of the charges is a felony.
The woman, who still lives in the southern Vermont area and runs a business, said she did not report the incident to police at the time of the assault. They had been dating for 7 1/2 years, and engaged for about a year and a half before the relationship ended in July 2017. The woman on Friday took out a restraining order against Diaz, and Windham County Public Defender Joanne Baltz said Diaz was only served with it just before his arraignment.
The judge ordered Diaz not to contact the woman or her parents, who live out of state.
The woman said she took the photo of Diaz holding a gun to his head because she was going to send it to his mother.
It was unclear whether the gun Diaz allegedly used to threaten the woman was his Vermont State Police service revolver, since the woman said Diaz had his own handgun.
The alleged incidents took place on Feb. 25, 2017 at about 2 a.m., after the woman got home after a night out with three friends, who all happened to be Windham County deputy sheriffs, Ian Tuttle, Joshua Parro and Jessica Fellows. Tuttle and Parro now work for the Bellows Falls Police Department.
When she got home, Diaz, who was working the night shift that evening, was in the process of signing off when she got home, court records state, so the incident unfolded after he got off shift. But the woman said he immediately started accusing her of cheating on him, and he struck her in the face with a fist twice, and also pointed a gun at her and himself.
"She did not report the event for fear that no one would believe her," she told VSP Detective Denis Girouard.
Diaz later apologized to the woman repeatedly, and went to work with her the next day. But she told the VSP detective doing Diaz's background check that he kept her cellphone from her, thus prohibiting her from making calls.
Diaz was arrested on Wednesday by Vermont State Police, and his attorney said there had been no contact between them for two years - ever since Diaz resigned from the state police and returned to New York.
Diaz's family, including his parents and two of his sisters, as well as other supporters attended the hearing but declined comment afterwards. His attorney said Diaz was living with his parents in Brooklyn.
According to Diaz's application for a public defender, he is working as an Uber driver, and makes about $1,000 a month.
Treadwell rejected Baltz's request that Diaz be released on bail, siding with Shriver that he should be held pending a weight-of-the-evidence hearing, which has to be held within 14 days. A weight-of-the-evidence hearing is like a mini-trial, with both sides presenting key pieces of evidence.
After Diaz's arraignment, Shriver said she would meet with his attorney to make sure the Department of Corrections implements its special policies to protect Diaz once he's in jail.
Shriver said that her office did not have a conflict handling the Diaz case. He was a trooper in the Putney area for about two years, having been hired in 2015.
Adam Silverman, spokesman for Vermont State Police, said that troopers go through a standard, comprehensive pre-employment background check process that includes the assigning of a detective to carry out the inquiry. He said there are interviews with associates of the applicants and the applicants themselves, as well as record checks.
"We have no information at this time to indicate that anyone in law enforcement was aware of the assault and related offenses when they occurred, or that the victim made any previous reports to the authorities," he said.
Contact Susan Smallheer at email@example.com or at 802 556-2147.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.