Norwich chef ordered held without bail

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A chef from Norwich has been ordered held without bail after he allegedly attacked his housemate, violated a restraining order and then scuffled with a pair of Norwich police officers on Tuesday evening.

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    Michael Matthews, 57, of Norwich pleaded innocent Wednesday afternoon to felony counts of first degree aggravated domestic assault and first degree unlawful restraint as well as to accompanying misdemeanor counts of domestic assault, violating an abuse prevention order and resisting arrest.

    Matthews, who has worked for the past six years as an executive chef at the Kendal retirement home in Hanover, is facing a maximum potential penalty upwards of 33 years in jail if he were to be convicted of all of the charges now pending against him.

    In an affidavit filed with the court, Norwich Police Officer Jennifer Frank wrote that she and Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson went out to Ladeau Road on Tuesday evening to serve Matthews with a relief-from-abuse order that instructed him to immediately vacate his residence until his 63-year-old domestic partner could find a safe place to stay.

    Frank said that police had already arranged with a local church to put Matthews up for the evening but she said Matthews refused repeated requests by the officers to gather his things and go with them.

    Finally, when police had had enough and told Matthews he was under arrest, Frank said Matthews refused three separate requests to stand up so he could be handcuffed.  At that point, she said she and Chief Robinson “physically controlled” Matthews by placing him on his stomach on a couch and, after a struggle, managed to cuff both his hands behind his back.  

    In the same affidavit, Officer Frank wrote that the court had issued the relief-from-abuse order after Matthew’s housemate described “excessive use of alcohol and threatening behavior…that has been going on for 12 months,” including allegations of kicking and throwing his dog against a wall while in a “drunken rage.”

    The putative victim wrote that in the most recent incident Matthews had allegedly “grabbed me around the neck and arms and shoved me into the bathroom and prevented me from getting out for several minutes.”

    The man wrote that during the alleged incident Matthews had “cut off my wind” to the point that he couldn’t breathe which he wrote “had me fearing for my life.”

    During Wednesday arraignment at the courthouse in downtown White River Junction, Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Heidi Remick noted that while Matthews’ criminal record consists mostly of alcohol-related offenses, including drunk driving convictions, he has had four violations of probation over the years.

    “He’s facing two felony counts of violence against another person, evidence of guilt is great and conditions-of-release are not sufficient to guarantee protection of the public,” Remick argued before Judge Timothy Tomasi, stressing, “With his behavior last night, when he defied a court order after approximately a dozen warnings and then resisted arrest, the state can have little confidence that he will abide by conditions of release.”

    Judge Tomasi agreed to hold Matthews without bail, saying from the bench that “the resisting of arrest and the alcohol and threats that have been alleged to over time give the court no confidence that conditions would be followed,” however, the judge said he would be willing to modify his order if Matthews could find a bed at a rehab facility because, “It does seem as thought alcohol may be at the root of much of what is going on.”

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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