BRATTLEBORO -- Less than two months after he was released from prison, Angel Figueroa is back behind bars.
And he is facing the same allegation -- domestic assault -- that landed him in jail earlier this year. This time, the 23-year-old Brattleboro man is charged with a felony count of second-degree aggravated domestic assault in connection with a Monday incident in Putney.
Prosecutors asked for Figueroa to be held without bail, but Judge John Wesley this week instead maintained $500 bail that had been imposed soon after the suspect's arrest.
"I don't find that the facts here support the legislative intent with respect to holding Mr. Figueroa without bail," Wesley said during Figueroa's arraignment in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
The judge noted, however, that Figueroa's lack of a fixed address and his criminal record required the imposition of some bail amount.
"The court believes there is a significant likelihood of nonappearance to justify cash bail," Wesley said.
Vermont State Police said they were called just before 6 p.m. Monday to a Putney residence where a woman said she had been assaulted by Figueroa, who had left the scene.
The Reformer as a policy does not identify victims of domestic assault.
The woman told police that she had asked Figueroa to "'get out' due to problems," a court affidavit says. Figueroa departed but then returned.
"She then observed him coming toward the apartment again and, due to his history, she armed herself with a plastic shovel and began yelling at the defendant to get off the property," the affidavit says. "The victim said the defendant struck her in the face with an open hand and kicked her in the knees, causing her pain."
A state trooper asked the victim whether she had swung the shovel at Figueroa or had cornered him, and she said she had not.
She also told police Figueroa recently had been released from jail for assaulting a different woman.
Court records show that Figueroa was charged with aggravated domestic assault after a March incident in Brattleboro. He was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault in mid-June and was sentenced to 15 to 20 days in prison.
His record also includes convictions for simple assault, disorderly conduct and violating conditions of release. All resulted from Brattleboro cases.
On Monday, Figueroa was tracked down and held by police in Brattleboro a few hours after the alleged assault in Putney. He initially denied taking part in any assault but later "changed his statement and said he was assaulted by the victim who was swinging a shovel," court documents say.
But the affidavit also says Figueroa "refused to provide a sworn, written statement" to that effect.
At Figueroa's arraignment on Tuesday, Windham County Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein asked that the suspect be held without bail.
When Wesley rejected that, Gartenstein proposed $2,500 bail. But defense attorney Evan Chadwick said that was far too high.
"The $2,500 is absolutely impossible for my client to raise," Chadwick said. "You might as well hold him without bail."
Wesley continued the $500 bail, saying that "I'm inclined to the view that there are conditions of release that can protect the public."
Figueroa's conditions of release include having no contact with the alleged victim in this case or with the victim in his previous domestic-assault conviction.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.