Saturday June 22, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man reported to prison this week for his third drunken-driving conviction -- this one involving an incident outside a bar where he had been accused of purposefully striking a man with his vehicle.

Shawn A. Therieau, 44, will serve two months behind bars and undergo counseling after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and disorderly conduct in connection with the 2012 incident at the Eagles Club on Chickering Drive in Brattleboro.

Several other charges, including reckless endangerment, were dismissed. Though police initially had said Therieau assaulted a man by hitting him with his pickup truck, a prosecutor said the case was "not as clear-cut as perhaps it sounds" after further investigation.

"This was a compromise for both the state and defendant," said Steven Brown, Windham County deputy state’s attorney. "The victim was consulted at all stages and agreed with the resolution. I think it addresses all the behaviors that occurred that evening."

Brown added that the plea "allows the defendant to take responsibility for his actions and get help."

Brattleboro police were summoned on the evening of April 29, 2012, to the Eagles Club. There they found an "agitated" victim pacing inside the bar with blood on his leg.

Witnesses told police that Therieau had become agitated when the bartender refused to continue serving him alcohol. He reportedly left the bar and drove his Ford pickup aggressively around the parking lot, squealing his tires and damaging a fire hydrant and a bush.

Therieau re-entered the bar, police said in court documents, and confronted a patron before exiting again. The victim told investigators that he went into the parking lot "in an attempt to make verbal contact with Therieau."

That’s when Therieau allegedly reversed his truck and drove toward the victim, who "took a fire extinguisher from inside of the Eagles Club and attempted to throw it into Therieau’s vehicle and incapacitate him so that he would be incapable of operating the vehicle further," a court affidavit says.

But police said the victim was hit by Therieau’s truck "at least three times." The first was a glancing blow, officers said, while the second and third instances knocked the victim down.

Therieau then drove down Putney Road toward downtown Brattleboro, where he allegedly refused to stop for a pursuing officer. Therieau reached 50 mph in the area of Park Place, then turned onto Chapin Street and Oak Street before pulling over, court papers say.

The suspect appeared intoxicated and told police that "a man had attempted to throw a fire extinguisher at his vehicle, and that he had defended himself," according to an affidavit.

Therieau in April entered pleas to the drunken-driving and disorderly conduct counts. It is his third DUI offense, with the others having occurred in 1986 and 1994, court documents show.

In Windham Superior Court Criminal Division this week, Judge John Wesley sentenced Therieau to two to four years in prison. But he will serve only 60 days and then enter the Intensive Substance Abuse Program while serving the remainder of his sentence on furlough.

If Therieau violates the terms of his release, he will return to jail.

Therieau’s attorney, Chris Montgomery, said his client preferred to begin serving the 60 days right away and "get in as soon as possible so he can get out as soon as possible."

Wesley said the sentence is a "just balance between a punitive component and a mostly rehabilitative component."

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