BF kidnap suspect denied new attorney
BRATTLEBORO -- Nearly seven months after being charged with kidnapping a woman and assaulting police, Frank Foster wants a new attorney.
But Judge David Suntag on Monday declined to grant that request, saying the Bellows Falls man is entitled to a public defender but is not entitled -- based on the complaints he aired in court -- to choose which one.
"Nothing, to me, sounds like your attorney is doing anything other than working for you appropriately," Suntag said.
Foster is accused of entering a Bellows Falls woman’s home April 23 through a second-floor window after climbing a tree. The victim told police that Foster threatened her and another man with a knife and forced them to walk to an ATM on Church Street.
After spotting a police car before reaching the ATM, Foster allegedly forced the victims to return to the woman’s home to retrieve her car. He threatened to slash her throat as they drove, but the woman jumped out of the car at a red light, court documents say.
The man also escaped. Foster fled in a stolen car, police said.
He was arrested May 10 in Saxtons River after police said they received a complaint about a man standing in the middle of a street attempting to get hit by passing vehicles.
While transporting Foster to the state police Rockingham barracks, the suspect allegedly kicked out a cruiser window, kicked two troopers and bit one trooper’s leg.
In Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Monday, Foster’s attorney said there had been "some conversations about resolving this case" before going to trial.
But attorney Sarah Biolsi Vangel also said Foster was unhappy with her representation and wanted a trial. The shackled suspect elaborated on that argument after he was led into court.
"I don’t feel like we’re at where we should be at right now," Foster said.
Specifically, he cited his inability to examine witness-interview transcripts and to review an independent evaluation of his mental health.
Vangel said there are no witness transcripts. At the judge’s suggestion, she said she would attempt to set up a prison visit with audio equipment so Foster could listen to those interviews.
As for the mental health evaluation, Vangel said she had discussed its contents with her client. But she expressed concern about releasing the document and about Foster’s well-being.
"Frank has had a difficult time with his mental health, including several suicide attempts while he was incarcerated," Vangel said.
Suntag said the evaluation decision ultimately may fall to a psychiatrist.
Also, in response to another complaint, the judge said Foster did not have the right to file court motions himself.
Suntag, in rejecting Foster’s request, said an attorney’s job is to "represent you to the best of her ability" but not necessarily to follow every order.
Foster next is due in court in January, when prosecutors expect to move forward with a trial on a separate escape charge. That stems from the fact that Foster was on furlough from prison when he allegedly ran afoul of the law earlier this year.
Foster also is accused of entering a Hinsdale, N.H., home and making threats on April 15, eight days before the alleged Bellows Falls kidnapping.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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