Friday May 10, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A Bellows Falls man has admitted to his role in two mugging incidents in January 2012.

James R. Lafayette, 21, pleaded guilty this week in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division to two counts of larceny from a person, one count of simple assault and one count of disorderly conduct.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

Lafayette, who also goes by the surname Prue, had been arrested after muggings on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, 2012, in Bellows Falls.

In the first incident, the victim told police she had just checked her account balance at Merchants Bank and was walking home when she noticed two men following her on foot.

Near Rockingham Free Public Library on Westminster Street, the victim slipped on ice and lost her balance.

"When she yelped, one of the males said something that she could not understand," police wrote in a court affidavit. "As she started to walk away, the two males approached her, grabbed her coat, reached into her right coat pocket and took her wallet, and then fled down the street."

One of the suspects, Mitchell Beauchamp, told police that he had stood in front of the victim while covering his mouth with his hand, according to court documents.

Lafayette had taken the victim's wallet but later told Beauchamp that "the theft was a bust, and he had tossed the wallet," investigators wrote.

The following day, a different woman reported that a man dragged her into an alley between Merchants Bank and Peoples Bank in the Square.


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The man had grabbed the victim's shoulder bag and, when she fell and wouldn't let go of the bag, he dragged her farther into the alley, police said. At some point, the suspect let go of the bag and ran.

A witness identified the suspect as Lafayette after viewing photo lineups, court documents say. The victim, who suffered abrasions and bruising, said she was "pretty sure" her assailant was Lafayette after viewing those same photos, police said.

Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver said Beauchamp previously pleaded guilty to his role in the incidents.

In addition to the larceny from a person and simple assault charges stemming from the muggings, Lafayette pleaded guilty this week to disorderly conduct in connection with an Oct. 23, 2012, fight in Rockingham.

He also pleaded guilty to 16 counts of violating his conditions of release.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.