Case was originally filed as an attempted murder
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A part-time Springfield resident with a history of drug dealing convictions has been ordered held without bail over allegations that late last month he tried to stab a Windsor man in the throat as the victim was walking near the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge.
Police in Windsor initially filed their case against Luis “Pops” Rodriguez, 33, as an attempted first degree murder; however, after the charges were reviewed by prosecutors, Rodriguez ended up pleading innocent this week to amended felony counts of aggravated assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Despite that reduction in the charges, Rodriguez is still facing the possibility of life in prison because the state also filed a habitual offender notice seeking “enhanced penalties” due to his seven previous felony convictions for drug sales that took place in recent years in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Rodriguez was arraigned on Thursday afternoon, nearly a month after the alleged knife attack, because it had taken several weeks to extradite him from New Hampshire where he had reportedly turned himself in to police in Claremont earlier this month.
In an affidavit filed with the court Windsor Police Detective Daniel Silver wrote that James Morse, the father of Rodriguez’s girlfriend, told police that he had been walking with a friend near the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge on the evening of November 25th when Rodriguez came running up to him and attempted to slit his throat.
“Morse said that (Rodriguez) stabbed him in the throat but he was able to grab (Rodriguez’s) arm, negating his ability fully penetrate the knife through the front of his throat. Morse said that he had to fight as hard as he could to keep (Rodriguez) from cutting his throat and that (Rodriguez) stated multiple times ‘I’m going to kill you!’,” the detective wrote.
Morse told police that during the attack Rodriguez did manage to knee him in the nose which resulted in significant swelling, two black eyes, and a pain level that Morse rated a “nine” on a scale of 1-to10 when asked about it by investigators. Pictures taken at the time by officers show Morse with deep bruises under each eye and what appear to be puncture marks on his neck.
Morse’s account of the assault was backed up by Gregory Richards, the man who was walking along with him. Richards told police that he immediately recognized “Poppy” when he pushed past him and held a four-inch long knife up to Morse’s throat while demanding “Give me your money!,” according to affidavits filed with the court.
Detective Silver wrote that while he was interviewing Morse about the late November incident, Morse also elaborated on what he said had been another serious attack against him by Rodriguez approximately three months beforehand.
Morse told the detective that on the morning of September 2nd he had been lured by text messages which he thought were being sent by a friend of his to come have coffee at a house on Main Street.
Morse said that when he arrived at the residence Rodriguez came out with a hammer and struck him “a bunch of times” allegedly “trying to take my head off” by “swinging the hammer as hard as he could towards my head.”
On that occasion as well, Morse told police, he thought his life was in jeopardy while he was being attacked, adding that his pain level during that attack was also “a nine” on a 1-to-10 scale.
Morse claimed that as a result of that alleged assault he still had ten “round-type bruise marks” on his body.
Detective Silver noted in his report that he and another officer did recall speaking to Morse on the morning of September 2nd and being told by Morse at that time that Morse “had been attacked by Pops with a hammer” but he wrote that the investigation never got off the ground that day because Morse had declined to provide a written statement about what had allegedly happened.
Rodriguez was one of 32 suspected drug dealers who were targeted as part of the “Operation Precision Valley” arrest sweep in November of 2013 and at the time police said their informants claimed they had first bought drugs from Rodriguez when he attended Springfield High School a decade beforehand.
The following month, December of 2013, Rodriguez was arrested again after state troopers executed a search warrant on his room at a motel in West Windsor in a raid that led to the seizure of heroin and cash.
Rodriguez’s parole stemming from those convictions expired in March of this year.
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