BRATTLEBORO -- Nearly a year after a warrant was issued for Louis Medina’s arrest in connection with a knife attack that left a man bleeding from the ear, the former Bellows Falls resident has been found.
Medina, 32, appeared Thursday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division and pleaded not guilty to six charges including aggravated assault with a weapon. Because he is charged as a habitual offender, four of the counts carry maximum life sentences.
Medina was held without bail, with Judge David Suntag saying he could not grant defense attorney Benjamin Schultz’s request that the suspect be released and allowed to live with a relative in Bellows Falls pending further court proceedings.
"Mr. Medina’s record just speaks volumes against that," Suntag said.
Argument at Medina’s arraignment Thursday indicated that he had been arrested in Massachusetts and extradited to Vermont. He had been wanted since September 2013, when Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver requested an arrest warrant.
That stemmed from two Sept. 22 incidents in Bellows Falls. Police said they initially responded to a report of a man who had been stabbed in the ear; they found the victim "holding his left ear with a towel and complaining of a great deal of pain," according to an affidavit filed at the time by Bellows Falls Police Department Officer David Bemis.
The man told police he had been walking home in the area of Fuller’s Laundromat when he passed a man he did not know -- later identified as Medina -- sitting on a curb. Medina was agitated, police say, because he thought the man had brushed against him or "checked" him.
The victim "advised the male had then jumped up and had a knife, stabbing (the victim) in the ear," the affidavit says. "(The victim) advised the male had then attempted to hit or stab him some more, but he was able to keep clear of him."
The man was treated at Springfield Hospital, police said.
While investigating the stabbing incident, police received another 911 call from a residence on Hapgood Place. A woman there told officers that Medina "had choked her, putting her against a wall, holding his hand on her neck and had a large knife in the other hand and pressed this to her neck as well," according to the affidavit.
The woman also said Medina "had threatened to kill her and her family."
Police searched the area but could not find Medina.
He was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon; simple assault with a weapon; reckless endangerment; first-degree aggravated domestic assault; first-degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon; and carrying a weapon while committing a crime.
Prosecutors enhanced four of those charges because of Medina’s record. Court documents show that his felony convictions include aggravated assault with a weapon in 2009; aggravated assault in 2009; first-degree aggravated domestic assault in 2004; first-degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon in 2004; and second-degree unlawful restraint in 2004.
At his arraignment Thursday, Windham County Deputy State’s Attorney Ashley Harriman requested that Medina be held without bail. She noted that he had been on arrest-warrant status and "has quite a lengthy criminal history."
Schultz, while acknowledging that his client was "no stranger" to the Vermont criminal-justice system, said Medina has no out-of-state record and never has failed to appear for court.
He also said Medina had not fled from prosecution.
"He left (Vermont) in October, which was after these charges were filed, but did not know about them," Schultz said.
Suntag said he could not set bail given Medina’s history, which also includes an escape conviction, as well as the "serious offenses" he now is charged with. A weight of the evidence hearing will be scheduled within two weeks so that Medina’s attorney can argue for bail.
Medina also can have no contact with the alleged victims in the case. Suntag warned him that the prohibition includes telephone calls made from or received at the prison.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275. Follow him on Twitter @MikeReformer.