A man who had been living with his sister in East Haven before he allegedly assaulted her and went to jail must stay there, a judge decided late Thursday afternoon.
James Gibbons, 52, is being held in the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury with no bail option. Essex County State’s Attorney Vince Illuzzi made the argument that Gibbons should not be allowed to go free while his case is pending, and Judge Robert Gerety Jr. agreed with the prosecutor.
Among the reasons the judge wrote in support of his decision were Gibbons’ previous and recent prior conviction of domestic assault, the evidence supporting his guilt in the current assault case against his sister is great, and he poses a danger to people who report his behavior to police.
“The court finds this evidence is clear and convincing evidence that Defendant will assault people whom he believes have reported his criminal conduct to law enforcement,” the order notes.
In the current case, in which Gibbons allegedly attacked his 63-year-old sister in her kitchen on July 1, the reported motivation for the assault was his sister’s involvement in the previous assault case that led to a period of incarceration for Gibbons.
Prior to the judge reaching his decision he held a hearing to give Illuzzi and defense attorney Laura Wilson a chance to argue their opposing view regarding Gibbons’ release. The hearing was Thursday. Gibbons appeared from a video conference room in the prison. Illuzzi called witnesses to support his request to have Gibbons held without bail. One of them was Gibbons’ sister who spoke about the attack.
“He came running into the kitchen and put me in headlock,” she said under oath, accessing the hearing by video. “He put my left arm behind my back and I couldn’t get any air and he kept trying to slam my head on the counter.”
The sister told the court that she was trying to communicate with her brother that he was causing her pain, but it wasn’t making him stop.
“I couldn’t get through to Jamie. His eyes were black. I was literally petrified for my life. I kept praying and praying and praying,” she said.
During the assault, she said, he connected his actions to her calling the police on him a year ago.
“‘Who’s the man now? I’m the alpha. You made me spend a year in jail. I’m the one who’s in control now, not you,’” the sister testified as to what Gibbons said to her during the assault.
“You could hear the bones in my neck, collarbone and shoulder crack,” she said. “I was in excruciating pain and scared to death. I actually thought I was going to die.”
She said she got away by not resisting. When Gibbons loosened his grip, she broke free and ran outside into her vehicle and locked the doors. She texted a friend who called 9-1-1, initiating the response of three state troopers.
Wilson argued that there are conditions of release that could be set that would allow Gibbons to be freed from jail. She said Gibbons, who came to the area from Indiana, has never had a chance to establish himself locally and should have the chance. She said he has some money that he could use to rent a room.
The judge disagreed that any conditions of release would be effective in Gibbons’ case.
“The court finds that there is no release condition, or combination of conditions that will reasonably prevent the physical violence. Defendant committed the alleged assault in this docket approximately 10 days after he was convicted of domestic assault in the separate docket and while he was on probation,” the judge noted. “Probation condition 23 states that he was prohibited from engaging in violent or threatening behavior. This persuades that court the Defendant is likely to violate court orders designed to prevent him from engaging in violent behavior toward others.”