Jury convicts Brattleboro man of sexual assault of girlfriend
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | November 09,2012
BRATTLEBORO — A 45-year-old Brattleboro man faces a potential life sentence after a Windham County jury found him guilty of the sexual assault of his new girlfriend who he met over the Internet.
David Piquette, a former resident of neighboring Hinsdale, N.H., was arrested a few days after the Dec. 1, 2011, assault after he returned from Maine where he had gone to see another woman.
The victim, who moved to Brattleboro in November 2011 to live with Piquette after she lost her job, has since moved back to her hometown in New York. She attended the trial.
The jury deliberated a little more than four hours Monday afternoon after getting the case and found Piquette guilty of sexual assault and domestic violence. However, he was found innocent of kidnapping and unlawful restraint.
David Gartenstein, deputy state’s attorney for Windham County, said the jury paid close attention to the testimony during the trial and decided who was credible.
Both the victim and Piquette took the stand, and were cross--examined, he said.
“The jury in the case had to consider conflicting evidence which was presented by the state and defense,” Gartenstein said. “After carefully considering all the evidence, the jury made its credibility determination and made its decision.”
“We thank them for their work,” said Gartenstein, who handles most of the sex crime cases in Windham County.
According to court files, Piquette and the woman met online in August 2011, and the woman moved to Brattleboro to live with Piquette in November.
When Piquette got home the night of Dec. 1, the woman confronted him about the name of another woman in his cellphone, and an argument broke out. According to the woman, Piquette became violent, hit her, took her keys and sexually assaulted her a number of times.
At about 1 a.m., that morning, she got her keys back from him and fled to New York in her vehicle.
The woman drove by the Vermont State Police barracks in West Brattleboro, but didn’t stop because she was afraid.
It was only after she got home to New York, talked to her sister and her minister, that she went to the hospital for treatment and talked to police, according to court records.
Piquette’s attorney, Joanne Baltz of the Windham County Public Defender’s office, in her closing arguments, had questioned the woman’s story, noting that while Piquette followed her in his car, she waved at him, in a friendly way, she said.
After the assault Piquette left Brattleboro to go see the Maine woman he and the victim had argued about, only returning to Vermont five days later, when he learned police were looking for him. He turned himself in, Gartenstein said.
Piquette has been held without bail since his arrest.
A conviction for sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, Gartenstein said. A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered by Judge David Suntag, who presided at the trial. It will be 60 to 90 days before Piquette is sentenced, he said.