Man gets four to 10 years for pointing gun toward cops in 2009
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 05,2012
BENNINGTON — In a case that goes back more than three years and involves the Vermont Supreme Court, a Gage Street man, who was accused of pointing a gun at police in March 2009, pleaded guilty to two felony charges on Tuesday and was sentenced to serve four to 10 years in prison.
Paul J. Bourn, 34, of Bennington, pleaded guilty in Bennington criminal court on Tuesday to felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Bourn was first arraigned in March 2009 on those charges as well as a felony count of unlawful trespass into an occupied home, which was dismissed by the state in December 2010.
Also in March 2009, Bourn was arraigned on felony charges of aggravated assault committed to prevent law enforcement officers from performing their lawful duties and impeding a public officer and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. A jury found Bourn innocent of those three charges in December 2010.
Bourn was arrested after a woman called police to her home because Bourn wouldn’t leave. When police arrived, Bourn fled further into the home and picked up what was later found to be an unloaded rifle.
The two officers involved testified that they almost shot Bourn before realizing that he was moving the rifle in an upward arc and pointing it at the ceiling.
Bourn pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest on Dec. 21, 2009, but on May 21, 2010, during what was supposed to be his sentencing hearing, Bourn withdrew the guilty plea.
After a trial, a jury convicted Bourn of the two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but innocent of the three other charges, because they found that his level of intoxication at the time of the incident left him unable to form the intent necessary to be convicted of the crimes.
Bourn had an outburst after the jury gave its verdict, yelling obscenities at the jury members for convicting him. He was ordered to serve 60 days in jail for contempt of court for the incident.
Bourn appealed his conviction to the Vermont Supreme Court saying that because aggravated assault requires specific intent, “he was entitled both to a jury instruction to that effect and to raise a diminished capacity defense to the charges,” according to the Vermont Supreme Court decision.
The justices agreed and reversed the verdict, sending it back to Bennington criminal court for a new trial.
Justice Marilyn Skoglund, who wrote the decision for the court, pointed out that the jury was told about Bourn’s level of intoxication and its relationship to the concept of “diminished capacity” for three of the charges for which Bourn was tried.
“The State did not object. It is worth noting that on every count where this defense was available to defendant, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty,” Skoglund said.
The sentence may not keep Bourn in prison for much longer. An instruction from Judge Cortland Corsones requires that Bourn be given credit for time he has already served starting from March 21, 2009.
At a hearing in May 2011, attorney Frederick Bragdon, who represented Bourn, said his client had mental health and substance issues that had gone untreated. Bragdon called the incident in March 2009 an attempt by Bourn, who has an extensive criminal history dating back to when he was 18, to commit “suicide by cop.”