Chester teen rape suspect allowed out of the house to work this summer
Testimony about girl's alleged SnapChat message annoyed the judge
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A teenage rape suspect who is facing a potential life sentence has been granted an exception to his court-ordered 24-hour pre-trial curfew which will allow him to spend the summer working as a laborer on construction sites supervised by his father.
Ryan Stocker, 18, of Chester took the witness stand in front of Judge Theresa DiMauro on Wednesday morning and asked for a much broader exception that would have allowed him to drive himself to carpentry jobs and to visit his mother on the other side of the state once each week but the judge allowed just the one narrow exception to her month-old order.
“These alleged (crimes) occurred when Mr. Stocker, at the age of 17, had a fair amount of freedom and wasn’t supervised and was out of the house at all sorts of hours and engaging in conduct, allegedly, while consuming alcohol and he’s not even 21 by a number of years,” Judge DiMauro noted from the bench, before adding, “The court is not inclined to provide the freedom that Mr. Stocker wishes and that he had previously.”
Stocker testified shortly after his father, Chad, took a turn on the witness stand and described how his son had worked alongside him and a handful of his other employees last summer earning money for college.
The elder Stocker said that the college which had previously accepted his son and offered a $20,000 scholarship so he could study business management there was keeping his son’s place on their admissions roster open for the fall of 2018 pending the outcome of his criminal cases.
Ryan Stocker, 18, of Chester is facing two felony charges that carry potential life maximums
The line of questioning Wednesday managed to exasperate the judge at one point when defense attorney Mel Fink asked Ryan Stocker if he’d had any further contact with one of his accusers, a 16-year-old who came forward to authorities in October and reported that she thought she had been sexually assaulted by Stocker after she got drunk and spent the night with several teens at a mutual acquaintance’s house in Ludlow.
Stocker said he had not tried to contact her since that night but then continued, “The next day after the said incident she messaged me through SnapChat and asked to hang out.”
Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Heidi Remick cut Stocker off saying, “I’m going to object to the hearsay, your honor.”
“What’s the purpose of this question when we are just talking about the curfew?” Judge DiMauro wondered.
Attorney Fink replied that he was just trying to show that “since that time (Stocker) has had no interest in getting in contact with her whatsoever,” saying a few moments later that also applied to the girl who accused Stocker of similar behavior in May.
“(That’s) according to him,” the judge countered, “But what’s the point of getting into this area now?”
Fink said the defense maintained that the alleged sexual conduct “was consensual” and said that he felt it showed Stocker was not a risk to public safety if he were to be out in the community.
“Whether he’s had contact with (her) or not, based on his representations is not relevant,” the judge shot back, concluding, “The court can’t put any weight on that…it’s irrelevant and can’t be established.”
A short time later during the motion hearing, Remick reiterated her statement from the original arraignment a month ago suggesting that additional charges against Stocker might still be forthcoming because “there are other matters that are still under investigation.”
Picking up on Remick’s remark, Judge DiMauro noted, “the court said at the arraignment that if there are further charges (the decision to allow Stocker to reside at home pre-trial) may change.”
“The presumption (in potential life imprisonment cases) is against release,” the judge continued. “He could have been held without bail. The state had in fact asked for that (but) the court balanced a number of factors (in deciding that a curfew could still) protect the public because that is paramount in cases like this.”
“If his father does not have work for him that day he stays home,” the judge added, “The court is not going to have Mr. Stocker driving around various counties.”
Stocker, who was described as “an honor roll student” during his arraignment in June, was barred by his court conditions from attending the last of the school year and missed both his final exams and Green Mountain Union High School’s graduation ceremony, his father explained to the court.
The school has allowed Stocker to take his final exams at home and to date he has completed all but one of them and expects to be awarded his diploma, his father continued.
Back in June, Stocker entered innocent pleas to two counts of felony sexual assault without consent, charges that in Vermont carry a minimum of three years in jail and a maximum potential penalty of up to life, if he were to be convicted.
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