Man who police said shot himself charged with domestic assault
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | January 29,2013
MANCHESTER — A man who police said admitted to shooting himself in the chest with a .22-caliber handgun on Dec. 31 in Manchester was arraigned on four felony charges Monday, the same charges on which he was scheduled to be arraigned the day after the shooting.
Donald J. Ely-Gardner, 27, of Manchester, pleaded innocent to two felony charges of first-degree aggravated domestic assault, two felony charges of second-degree aggravated domestic assault, which were modified for a previous conviction for violating an abuse prevention order, and a misdemeanor charge for violating the conditions of his release from custody.
Ely-Gardner was ordered held without bail until a hearing Friday to determine if he’ll be allowed to be released on bail or other conditions pending the outcome of the case.
In an affidavit, Officer Paul McGann of the Manchester Police Department said he had met with a woman on Dec. 26 who had a relationship with Ely-Gardner.
The woman said Ely-Gardner had kicked her feet out from under her at his home in Manchester on June 1 which caused her ankle to break. She said she had gotten X-rays the next day and was told her ankle had been shattered and she needed surgery.
The woman told police that doctors had to insert a metal plate and nine screws to repair the damage. She said she missed almost 60 days of work.
According to the woman, there had been another incident on Dec. 14 in which Ely-Gardner grabbed her hand and twisted her fingers until one of them broke.
At the time that McGann took the report, Ely-Gardner was still following conditions of release after he was arraigned in July on seven felony counts of violating an abuse prevention order. The charges, which are still pending, are felonies because Ely-Gardner had been convicted of violating an abuse prevention order in the past.
One of the conditions of release said that Ely-Gardner should not be charged with a new crime.
McGann’s affidavit said that Ely-Gardner had been cited to appear in court on Dec. 31 but on the night before that date, Ely-Gardner reported he had been shot in the chest as the victim of a “drive-by shooting.”
Ely-Gardner was taken to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington and then flown by helicopter to the Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center for treatment.
In a press release, police said Ely-Gardner had admitted about a week after the shooting that the wound was self-inflicted.
Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said the shooting was still under investigation and no decision had been made about whether there would be charges filed against any of the people involved.
At the time of the shooting, police said Ely-Gardner’s friend, William Nichols Jr., of Manchester, had taken him to the police department.
Marthage said the incident proved there were no conditions that would keep the woman who reported the domestic assaults safe and “certainly not (Ely-Gardner.)”
Judge Cortland Corsones said in making his decision to hold Ely-Gardner without bail, he considered his mental condition.
“There’s certainly some concern about his mental condition given the allegations of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as well as the allegations of violence in the most recent case,” he said.