Brattleboro man accused of attempted assault and robbery

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BRATTLEBORO — Police say a man tried to steal money from a Flat Street store while showing a knife to the clerk.

Bryan Houle, 28, of Brattleboro, pleaded not guilty to attempted assault and robbery with a weapon during his arraignment at Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division on Monday. He is facing up to 10 years in prison. A manager from Dottie's Discount Foods told police that one of the store clerks had been working on April 30 when the suspect "brandished a knife and told her to give him the money and then he lunged over the counter and tried prying open the cash register but was unsuccessful," according to an affidavit filed by the Brattleboro Police Department. Police said the clerk was not hurt and the suspect fled down Flat Street towards Main Street without taking any money. Surveillance video was reviewed and the suspect was said to have visited the store earlier in the day. Police arrested Houle on May 11 after a search warrant was granted and a knife that matched the description provided by the clerk was found in his residence.

Houle allegedly used a "pocket type knife," according to police. The clerk told police she refused to give Houle money and backed away, then Houle threatened to come closer. The clerk claimed she yelled to her co-worker, believing that may have scared Houle away but not before he tried sticking the knife into the cash register drawer in an attempt to wiggle it open. The clerk told police Houle couldn't get the register open and he ran out of the store.

Houle claimed he did not attempt to rob Dottie's and said another man wore his glasses during the incident. Attorneys argued about bail in court Monday. Dan Davis, defense attorney, asked for bail to be set at no more than $1,000 so Houle could afford to post. But Judge Katherine Hayes called the alleged offense "a very serious felony" and said Houle must be aware incarceration is possible.

"[Houle] has an increased incentive not to appear so I am going to grant the [state's] request of $2,500 cash surety as bail," Hayes said, after calling the figure "pretty minimal."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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