BENNINGTON — The mother of a Bennington girl accused of assaulting two men is facing new charges: being an accessory to her daughter’s alleged felony crimes, court records show.
The 15-year-old girl is charged as an adult with aggravated assault using a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a weapon in an incident last month. Her mother, previously charged with misdemeanor domestic assault, is now facing two felony charges that allege she aided in the assaults allegedly committed by her daughter.
VTDigger generally does not name criminal defendants younger than 18 or their family members. The teenage girl is named in court documents and has appeared in open hearings.
State police said the girl severely injured her father by repeatedly striking him on the head with a handgun while in his driveway on May 20. Investigators said the girl, her mother and two other young people went to the Glastenbury home, and after the parents got into a fight, the group of four assaulted the father.
Police also said that, during a confrontation with her brother that night, the pistol in the girl’s hands discharged beside his head as he was trying to move the gun away from his face.
In a supplemental statement filed in Bennington Superior Court about three weeks after the alleged incident, Detective Trooper Kipp Colburn said the girl’s mother had brought the handgun to the altercation.
The mother, a 44-year-old Bennington resident, spoke to the three young people who went with her to Glastenbury about wanting to assault her estranged husband because she believed he had a younger woman with him, according to Colburn’s affidavit.
A witness told investigators the 15-year-old girl’s father started “strangling and beating” the girl after the shot was fired and before police arrived. The witness also said the father had beaten the girl’s mother during their fight, the affidavit shows.
The mother is scheduled to return to court next Friday to answer to her new charges. Accessory aiding in the commission of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by up to five years in prison. For accessory aiding in the commission of aggravated assault with a weapon, the maximum penalty is 15 years.
One of the people who accompanied the mother to Glastenbury that night, Simon Free, 18, was also recently charged with the same felony offenses. He pleaded not guilty in a court appearance on Monday.
Police said he was an accessory to the assault because he kicked the 15-year-old girl’s father in the ribs.
On Tuesday, Judge Cortland Corsones transferred Free’s case from Bennington criminal court to family court, which will consider Free’s request to be designated a “youthful offender.”
Under Vermont law, criminal defendants ages 12 to 21 who are not charged with certain serious crimes are eligible to apply for youthful offender status. That puts the case on a rehabilitation-focused track, and court proceedings take place behind closed doors in family court.
Free, the teenage girl and her mother are free while they await further court action, provided they follow court-imposed conditions of release.
The girl previously spent 18 nights at the state women’s prison when no juvenile detention facility was available to take her. Officials wanted her in a locked facility because she was considered a danger to herself and others.
Last week, Judge Corsones ordered her released from jail and placed in the custody of the state Department for Children and Families after finding an improvement in her behavior.
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