BARRE — A homeless man, who allegedly choked one seven-year-old girl and forcefully shoved another on Merchant Street more than a week ago, missed a scheduled court date on Monday after his lawyer withdrew at the last minute, citing a conflict involving one of the adult witnesses.
Waitsfield attorney Colin Seaman was scheduled to represent 47-year-old Jason Fewer during a weight of evidence hearing that was set for Monday afternoon at the criminal courthouse in Barre. However, Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault said Seaman chose to withdraw citing a conflict he discovered when reviewing police affidavits earlier in the day.
By the time Seaman noticed the conflict, Thibault said it was too late to make other arrangements and Fewer was never transported from the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury, where he has been held without bail since his Jan. 27 arrest.
Monday’s hearing would have given Fewer and his lawyer a chance to challenge the state’s evidence – an accommodation routinely offered to defendants who are ordered held without bail.
Thibault said the hearing would be rescheduled after Fewer makes alternative legal arrangements. Until then, he said, the earlier decision denying him bail will stand.
At the time, Judge Mary Miles Teachout chose not to set bail for the most serious of the pending charges — aggravated assault — setting the stage for the weight of evidence hearing that had to be canceled on Monday.
Teachout did set bail at $5,000 for the remaining four charges, and imposed a host of conditions of release including a 24-hour curfew. It is unclear how Fewer, who is listed as “homeless” in court documents could abide by a round-the-clock curfew.
In addition to aggravated assault, Fewer has been charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and unlawful mischief — all misdemeanors — and a felony county of unlawful trespass of an occupied residence.
Among other things, Fewer has been charged with assaulting two of three young girls who told police they were responding to his cries for help when he grabbed one of them by the neck and shoved another away. Both girls sustained bruises that are documented in the court file.
Police responded to the scene and took Fewer, who they say was clearly intoxicated, into protective custody. According to court records, a preliminary breath test indicated Fewer’s blood-alcohol content was .183 percent at the time he was taken into custody.
In addition to assaulting the girls, police claim Fewer damaged the door of one Merchant Street apartment and let himself into another while searching for a friend he indicated lives on Brook Street.