A local man who was convicted in April of being an accessory to an attempted armed robbery in 2017 got himself into trouble almost two years ago because of what he called bad decisions, but the bond shared by members of the Marine Corps may help him turn his life around.
Matthew Hayward, 39, of Rutland, was sentenced to serve six months under home confinement, which will allow him to continue working and getting treatment.
The request for home confinement came from attorney Matthew Hart.
“Mr. Hayward, I got to know him. He’s a fellow Marine, a fellow combat veteran. That’s a bond that we share very closely,” Hart said.
Hart said Hayward had been severely injured in a combat accident and honorably discharged.
However, Hayward became addicted to opioids.
Hart said neither the addiction nor his service were excuses for his criminal behavior.
Hayward was convicted after a two-day trial in Rutland criminal court in April of being an accessory to the armed robbery and providing false information to the police.
Mandy Conte, 34, of Rutland, was charged with a felony count of attempted armed robbery for entering the Mac’s Convenience store in Rutland on Jan. 30, 2017, and wielding a box-cutter while asking for money.
The clerk at Mac’s used pepper spray on Conte and she left without any money.
Conte pleaded guilty in July but has not yet been sentenced.
Hayward had not been accused of playing any part in the robbery except driving Conte to the scene and then away and later lying to police.
During the sentencing hearing, Hayward apologized for his part in the robbery.
“I keep going back to everything and thinking in my head, ‘What if that was one of my family members behind the counter that night?’ Basically, I should have never been there. I never should have put myself in that position. I should have never drove her away, plain and simple,” he said.
Judge Thomas Zonay questioned Hayward extensively about why Hayward had been part of the robbery and how the court and the community could be assured Hayward would not be part of future crimes.
“You spent years of your life and you gave physically to, if you will, defend the flag and the freedom of the United States and the people here which was doing the right thing. And in that moment, here in Rutland, you’re faced with this. You did the wrong thing,” Zonay said.
Zonay asked how the court could know Hayward wouldn’t do the wrong thing in the future.
“The only thing I can really say, your honor, is I smartened up a lot,” Hayward responded.
Hayward told Zonay that if he went to jail, he would likely lose his home, his relationship and his job but also said that would be his fault.
The state wanted a three-to-eight-year sentence.
Zonay took a break after hearing from both Hart and Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan before delivering a sentence of six months to four years, with the six months to be served on home confinement.
Zonay sentenced Hayward to two years for providing false information to police but all of that time was suspended.
Hayward was also given a special condition that he attend the reparative board and complete the directions given by the board within a year. An official from the Mac’s Convenience store company had provided a letter to the court asking that Hayward perform community service.
“The court does believe it’s important for you to give back to the community,” Zonay said.
Hart, who embraced his client after the sentencing hearing, promised Zonay he would stay in contact.
“I, as a veteran, am going to make myself available to Mr. Hayward. If he ever needs anything, he can call me at any time,” Hart said.