Tuesday February 5, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A New Jersey man who admitted to police he did "something stupid" when he attempted to rob a teenager at about 11 p.m. on Feb. 1 was ordered held without bail on Monday afternoon.

According to court documents, Charles Trowell, 40, of Jersey City, was holding a kitchen knife against the teen's throat when the teen broke out of a headlock, causing him to suffer a 4-centimeter- long cut to his throat.

The teen then fled from the area of Elm Street and Flat Street to the Boys and Girls Club where he sought assistance and the police were called. The wound was described by police as serious, but not life threatening.

Because of Trowell's criminal history and the fact the crimes he is charged with in Brattleboro involve an element of violence, said Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein, there was no condition or set of conditions that could reasonably protect the public if Trowell was granted and posted bail. A records check revealed Trowell has nine felony convictions in New Jersey related to drugs, said Gartenstein, and spent several years in prison as a result.

Therefore, Trowell could qualify for habitual offender status.

"It appears he has spent the majority of the last 20 years in jail and every time he is released he's committed a new felony offense," said Gartenstein.


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According to court documents, Trowell and his co-defendant, Anthony Gonzalez, 32, of Brattleboro, demanded money from the victim, with Trowell holding a kitchen knife against his throat.

Though the victim offered to get the men $200 from his home, Trowell allegedly said, "I'm going to end this now."

During his interview, Trowell told police, "Just please tell me he ain't dead," according to court documents.

Trowell told police he was trying to scare the teen and thought he was holding the knife against his throat with the "blade out."

He also told police that he was drunk at the time of the incident.

"Trowell advised that he wasn't serious, they were just scaring people," stated the affidavit filed by police.

The Windham County State's Attorney's Office has determined that Trowell has an active arrest warrant issued against him in New Jersey, but has not yet received the materials needed to file a fugitive from justice complaint.

Though Trowell's public defender, Joanne Baltz, asked the judge to offer her client bail, Windham County Superior Court Judge David Suntag denied it, deferring the decision to a weight of the evidence hearing to be held in two weeks.

"The charge is quite serious," said Suntag. "And statements made by Trowell are somewhat incriminating. The case appears to be strong at this moment."

Baltz told the judge that a reading of Trowell's record reveals he did have a number of felony convictions, but other than one conviction for bail jumping, never had failure to appear charges leveled against him.

"My client indicated he always shows up for his court dates," said Baltz, adding this particular offense was related to the use of alcohol.

"Without the use of alcohol, whatever happened probably wouldn't even have started to happen," she said.

She also noted that most of his convictions were drug related and while there were some assault charges connected to those convictions, "Most if not all were dismissed."

Trowell is being held on four charges - assault and robbery with a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a weapon and simple assault with a weapon.

Gonzalez was ordered held on $25,000 bail, charged with three crimes - assault and robbery with a weapon, aggravated assault with a weapon and simple assault, attempted by menace.

Gonzalez's attorney, Chris Montgomery, urged the judge to grant his client bail and impose conditions that allow him to take care of three children in his household while his partner is at work.

"Regardless of what Mr. Gonzalez's childcare responsibilities are, he was not engaged in childcare at the time of this (incident)," said Suntag.

Montgomery noted that Gonzalez had a list of charges filed against him over the years, most of which had been dismissed, though he did have one conviction for probation violation from 2004.

But Gartenstein told the judge that the record appears to show two sets of criminal records for Gonzalez, one under his name and the other under an alias, but both with the same Social Security number and same date of birth.

Those records seem to indicate Gonzalez has previously been found guilty of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes, simple assault and bail jumping, said Gartenstein.

Montgomery told the court that his client informed him that he has never used the name Anthony Trowell, but has a cousin of that name.

Gonzalez will be back in court on Feb. 25 for a status conference.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter@audette.reformer.