Springfield man charged with menacing ex-wife and kids with stolen SUV
John Lawson ordered held without bail on ten charges
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A North Springfield man who picked up nine new criminal charges less than 90 minutes after he was released from police custody on Wednesday morning was ordered held without bail Thursday after a judge described him as posing an on-going threat to his ex-wife and questioned whether his mental state was deteriorating.
John Lawson, 49, is accused of taking a former co-worker’s vehicle without permission and using it to terrorize his ex-wife while she was walking with two young children near his home on Main Street.
Springfield Police Sgt. Adam Belville wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that Lawson had already been arrested first thing Wednesday morning after his ex-wife called to report that Lawson had failed to return a vehicle to her despite a court-order requiring him to do so.
Sgt. Belville said that just two days earlier Lawson had been served with the final relief from abuse order requiring him not to initiate contact with his ex-wife, who lives a little over 500 feet away from Lawson’s girlfriend’s residence on the same street.
Sgt. Belville said he was in the midst of discussing the return of the car when Lawson spotted his ex-wife nearby holding court paperwork and became argumentative towards her. The sergeant said that he warned Lawson to cut it out or he would get arrested but, “John proceeded to tell me to arrest him and laid down in the roadway.”
A short time later, Sgt. Belville wrote, Lawson took off running on foot down Main Street and he followed in his police cruiser, eventually taking Lawson into custody on School Street without any further incident.
Belville wrote that as he was being driven to the police department Lawson made a comment about seeing police near his house, allegedly adding that “if he had a gun, he could ‘pick us off’ from his vantage point.”
After Lawson was processed and released from the station, police got a call less than 90 minutes later saying that Lawson had just pulled out of a driveway in an SUV at a high-rate of speed and nearly run down his ex-wife as she pushed a stroller along the sidewalk.
Corporal Michael Gilderdale wrote that he arrived and found Lawson’s ex-wife was “teary eyed, trembling and couldn’t stand still. Her eyes were wide open and she was looking side-to-side like the victim in a horror movie who just got away from the attacker and was expecting it to jump out of nowhere,” Gilderedale noted.
The victim wrote that Lawson had come within 10 feet of her and the children before veering away and said she clearly recognized her ex-husband as he laid on the horn before roaring off.
“This was extremely scary. I was fearing for my daughter’s life and nephew’s life. He was driving directly at us to hit us and then swerved at the last second. I am still shaking and fear for my own life. He isn’t obeying orders,” she wrote in a sworn statement to police.
Corporal Guilderdale said that when he caught up with Lawson a short time later he denied having been the driver and said a friend had been driving the vehicle that morning but Guilderdale said that when police reached the SUV's owner by phone he told them that he had been at a New Hampshire job site all day and that company personnel had seen Lawson drive off in his truck without permission.
On Thursday afternoon Lawson pleaded innocent to the original misdemeanor count of violating an abuse prevention order and to three felony counts of second-degree aggravated domestic assault, a felony count of aggravated operation of a vehicle without the owner’s consent and accompanying misdemeanor counts of violating court-ordered conditions of pretrial release, providing false information to police, reckless endangerment and another count of violating an abuse prevention order.
During Thursday’s arraignment, Lawson’s public defender, attorney Robert Lees, said Lawson had lived in Ludlow for nearly 15 years before moving to Springfield 4 years ago. Lees said Lawson is currently unemployed after having lost his long-time job as a supervisor at a local factory.
John Lawson, 49, of North Springfield is facing three felony domestic assault related charges and seven misdemeanors
Vermont News can be contacted at email@example.com