BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to an amended, reduced assault charge just as he was about to go on trial for two more-serious counts in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
Nathan E. Hazlett, 41, pleaded to an amended misdemeanor count of domestic assault in connection with an October incident in Brattleboro.
As part of the plea agreement, the Windham County State’s Attorney’s office dismissed a felony assault charge that had been filed in connection with a November incident, also in Brattleboro.
Hazlett will be sentenced on the misdemeanor at a later date.
He was arrested the morning of Nov. 22 after Brattleboro police responded to Canal Street for a report of a man and woman fighting; the man reportedly had been wounded and was bleeding from his side.
The alleged victim claimed she had been punched several times in the back of her head. Hazlett had "a rolled-up shirt pressed to his side and was bleeding from the wound," according to an affidavit filed at the time.
He told police he "had fallen onto a beer bottle and was cut." But the woman later said she had thrown a knife at Hazlett, court documents say.
Police found the knife and believed that Hazlett’s explanation of his wound was "not only inconsistent, but implausible," according to their affidavit.
During the investigation, the woman told police that Hazlett also had assaulted her several times previously at a Western Avenue residence. One incident, which involved Hazlett punching the victim in the side of her head, happened in mid-October, police said.
A witness told police that she had heard physical struggles between Hazlett and the woman at the Western Avenue apartment.
"I asked that, given all she had seen, who (the witness) felt was the dominant physical aggressor" during these fights, police Sgt. Mark Carignan wrote in his affidavit. "(The witness) said that it was Hazlett."
Given that his criminal record allowed classification as a "habitual offender," Hazlett was charged with second-degree felony aggravated domestic assault counts in connection with both the November and October incidents.
Court documents show that Hazlett has been convicted of 23 misdemeanors and seven felonies in Vermont. The felonies include burglary and grand larceny in 2006; two counts of violating an abuse-prevention order a second or subsequent time in 2000; cocaine sale or delivery in 1997; simple assault with weapon in 1996; and burglary in 1990.
Hazlett was due to be tried on both of the felony domestic assault charges starting Wednesday morning. Instead, he agreed to plead guilty to an amended, misdemeanor domestic assault count in connection with the October incident.
As part of the deal, the state and Hazlett stipulated that he "recklessly caused bodily injury" by striking the victim’s face with an open hand. The maximum penalty for the charge is 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
The state dismissed the habitual-offender enhancement it had pursued against Hazlett and also dismissed the assault charge related to the November incident.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275. Follow him on Twitter @MikeReformer.