Westminster man to begin furlough with domestic abuse program
BRATTLEBORO -- A Westminster man accused of assaulting two people in May was sentenced Tuesday to 18 to 36 months of a pre-approved furlough following a plea agreement.
Jeremy J. Ritchie, 26, will serve the furlough with the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program, which is described by Spectrum Youth & Family Services as a batterer’s intervention program with groups that meet twice a week. Spectrum is managed and delivered by the Vermont Department of Corrections.
Attorney Mimi Brill, who was representing Ritchie in Windham Superior Court: Criminal Division, said her client is looking forward to serving his furlough so he can move forward with his life.
Ritchie stood up before Judge David T. Suntag and said he wants to get his furlough over with and move on.
Suntag told Ritchie the difficult part actually begins now for him.
"It may have felt like it was hard before now. You just didn’t know what was going to be happening. I understand that. But this is when you have to start doing the work," he said. "Any violation at all Š they can stick you back in court. And they will.
"The hope is," Suntag added, "that that doesn’t happen."
Ritchie was arraigned in May and ordered held without bail on charges including one count of first-degree aggravated domestic assault and two counts of second-degree aggravated domestic assault. Investigators have said one of those assaults took place over the course of about 10 hours, leaving one of the victims with injuries to her face, neck, shoulder, arm, back, legs and feet.
Vermont State Police said they initially were summoned at 10:46 a.m. Saturday, May 25, to Shady Pines Trailer Park for a report of a domestic assault in progress. Police were told en route that the suspect -- Ritchie -- had fled.
When two state troopers arrived at the scene, Ritchie’s mother, Barbara Ritchie, denied an assault had occurred. But then the first alleged victim came to the door with a bloody face and lips. Barbara Ritchie, 45, was cited for giving false information to police and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
Another trooper tracked down and arrested Jeremy Ritchie at an apartment on Atkinson Street in Bellows Falls, according to a court affidavit.
Ritchie claimed that he had been assaulted by that victim, investigators said. He was released from the state police Rockingham barracks with a citation to appear in court, and he also was ordered to have no contact with the victim and to not return to the Shady Pines residence. But Ritchie later that day forced a woman to his residence "where he assaulted her and refused to allow her to leave," the affidavit says.
The Reformer does not identify victims of domestic or sexual assault.
The second victim said the assault lasted until 7 a.m. Sunday. She told police that Ritchie "choked her with his hands, which cut off her air supply so she couldn’t breathe."
She also told investigators that Ritchie "grabbed and pulled her hair, causing soreness and welts on her head." The suspect also "held her down and would not allow her to leave the residence and picked
her up and threw her around several times," court documents say.
Police say they found "evidence of a struggle" at the scene including a smashed mirror, holes in the wall and blood on the sheets of Ritchie’s bed.
On Sunday, May 26, troopers again found Ritchie at the Atkinson Street apartment in Bellows Falls, where he "opened the residence door and immediately held his hands out and started to turn around to put his hands behind his back," the affidavit says.
Ritchie told police that there had been a struggle the previous night only because he was trying to stop the victim from harming herself. He also claimed the victim had incurred injuries in a previous fight with another woman, and he said the victim "bruises easily," according to court papers.
When asked by police why he had returned to the Shady Pines residence after being ordered to stay away, Ritchie reportedly said he had no other place to go.
Court documents note that Ritchie has a prior domestic assault conviction from 2006.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.