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State of Vermont v. John Steuerwald

November 14, 2012

STATE OF VERMONT
v.
JOHN STEUERWALD



APPEALED FROM: Superior Court, Washington Unit, Criminal Division DOCKET NO. 279-3-11 Wncr Trial Judge: Thomas A. Zonay

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brian L. Burgess, Associate Justice

State v. Steuerwald (2012-378)

2012 VT 98

ENTRY ORDER

SUPREME COURT

In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:

¶ 1. Defendant was held without bail pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 7553a on charges of aggravated domestic assault, 13 V.S.A. § 1043(a)(1); furnishing alcohol to a minor, 7 V.S.A. § 658(a)(1); and violating conditions of release, 13 V.S.A. § 7559(e). Defendant appealed and a de novo review was held on October 26, 2012, before Associate Justice Brian L. Burgess of the Vermont Supreme Court as provided by 13 V.S.A. § 7556(d) and V.R.A.P. 9. The parties agreed to rely on the record of the criminal division proceedings below. No new record evidence was admitted on appeal.

¶ 2. Defendants may be held without bail under 13 V.S.A. § 7553a when charged with a felony

an element of which involves an act of violence against another person . . . [and] when the evidence of guilt is great and the court finds, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that the person's release poses a substantial threat of physical violence to any person and that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably prevent the physical violence.

Defendant does not dispute the findings below or that the evidence of guilt is great in this case, but contends the court's denial of release on conditions to the care and custody of his mother was not supported by clear and convincing evidence.

I. Findings

¶ 3. The reviewing justice owes no deference to the trial court's findings or conclusions. State v. Madison, 163 Vt. 390, 393, 659 A.2d 124, 126 (1995). However, "nothing prevents a reviewing court from adopting unchallenged findings . . . of the trial court." Id. Under the clear and convincing standard, the following findings are adopted from the trial court, based on its Decision on Release of October 3, 2012, the prior record, and the latest arguments.

¶ 4. The events giving rise to the present appeal occurred on March 8, 2011. Defendant's neighbor arrived at his apartment on Elm Street in Montpelier at approximately midnight. Neighbor heard loud talking from defendant's apartment. When neighbor went to defendant's door and asked defendant to quiet down, neighbor saw a woman, later identified as the complainant, defendant's girlfriend, who stated that defendant had hurt her. Neighbor advised that he would call 911 if the noise continued.

ΒΆ 5. Minutes later, neighbor heard a loud crashing sound, complainant pleading for defendant to stop hurting her, and defendant threatening complainant. Neighbor called 911. Thereafter neighbor heard defendant threatening complainant and complainant begging in response. After neighbor's call to 911 ended, neighbor heard complainant's cries increase ...


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