BRATTLEBORO -- Frank Foster has an acknowledged history of mental illness and substance abuse, not to mention a substantial criminal record.
But on Thursday -- after entering pleas in connection with assaults last year in Bellows Falls and Saxtons River, the latter involving state troopers -- the 24-year-old declared that he is trying to turn his life around.
"I just want to move forward from where I am now," Foster told Judge David Suntag in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
Foster was in court to enter a mix of guilty and no-contest pleas to eight charges including four felonies. All stem from a roughly two-month stretch in early 2012 when Foster was a wanted man.
He had been out on furlough in connection with an assault on a corrections officer when, in March 2012, he was accused of escape for violating the conditions of that furlough.
On April 23, 2012, police said Foster entered a Bellows Falls home through a second-floor window after climbing a tree. The victim told investigators that Foster threatened her and another man with a knife and forced them to walk toward an ATM on Church Street.
But Foster spotted a police car before reaching the ATM. So police said he forced the victims to return to the woman's home to retrieve her car.
The woman eventually jumped out of the car at a red light, and the man also escaped. As a policy, the Reformer does not identify assault victims.
Foster fled Bellows Falls in a stolen car. But he was arrested after turning up May 10 in Saxtons River, where police had received a complaint about a man standing in the street attempting to get hit by passing vehicles.
Foster did not go quietly. Investigators said he kicked out the rear driver's side window of a state cruiser, with a trooper writing in court documents that he saw Foster "sticking his feet out of the window and appeared to be attempting to climb out of the window and escape."
Foster also was accused of kicking two troopers and biting another on the leg.
Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver said the victims in the Bellows Falls incident now are "upset" that Foster faces additional jail time.
"They never recanted their statements, but they backed off them quite a bit," Shriver said.
Nonetheless, Foster pleaded guilty on Thursday to the initial escape charge and also to domestic assault, two counts of unlawful restraint and interference with access to emergency services in connection with the Bellows Falls allegations.
The domestic assault charge stems from the fact that Foster scratched the victim's face with a knife, Shriver said. He also ripped a phone from a wall when the woman attempted to call police, leading to the emergency-services charge.
For the Saxtons River incident, Foster pleaded no contest to aggravated assault on a law-enforcement officer, resisting arrest and providing false information to law enforcement.
Based on his pleas, Foster was sentenced to serve five and a half to six years in prison with credit for time already served. Foster has been incarcerated since his Saxtons River arrest nearly a year ago.
Shriver said Foster's original sentence -- the assault conviction for which he had been on furlough in early 2012 -- includes a maximum range that could keep him in prison until October 2020.
The jail time connected with Thursday's pleas would run concurrently with that previous sentence.
Foster's attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, told the judge his client is "actually thankful that the state is giving him this opportunity" and is looking forward to working on his "significant issues" while incarcerated.
"He has a history of mental illness," Marsicovetere said. "He has a history of substance abuse, and they've been very challenging for him."
Suntag noted that Foster still is young in spite of his lengthy criminal history.
"You look a lot better today than the last time I saw you," Suntag said Thursday. "Something seems to be working."
Foster also has pending charges in New Hampshire: He is accused of entering a Hinsdale home and making threats on April 15, 2012.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.