Charges against Roger Pion near dismissal

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Attorney David Sleigh (left) represents Roger Pion in Orleans Superior Court.  Photo by Joseph Gresser
Attorney David Sleigh (left) represents Roger Pion in Orleans Superior Court. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 1, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

NEWPORT — The Newport man who crushed multiple police cruisers with a tractor just over two years ago could be only weeks away from seeing all 16 charges arising from the incident dismissed.

At a hearing here Tuesday in the Criminal Division of Superior Court, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed with psychiatric findings that Roger Pion, 36, of Newport was insane at the time of the incident.

A hearing is expected to be scheduled within 60 days to determine what level of medical treatment would be most appropriate for Mr. Pion.

Outside the courtroom after the brief hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Chandler Matson said the findings of insanity would eliminate the criminal charges against Mr. Pion.

“The charges no longer exist,” he told reporters. “He was not responsible for his actions at that date.”

State’s Attorney Alan Franklin was not available for comment, but in the courtroom before Judge Timothy Tomasi he said the state would stipulate to Mr. Pion’s insanity at the time of the offense.

Mr. Matson told reporters that psychiatric evaluations performed separately for the defense and the prosecution had reached the same conclusion.

Insanity, he said, means that Mr. Pion did not know what he was doing at the time.

What he was doing on August 6, 2012, was crushing seven police cruisers while they were parked behind the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department headquarters in Newport.

He allegedly told friends that God had ordered him to hurt someone, according to documents filed at a hearing in September 2012 in which the court ordered him to comply with his mental heath treatment plan.

Initially, Mr. Pion was found incompetent to stand trial, which means he would not have been able to converse with his lawyer or understand legal procedure.

Treatment over the last two years has restored his competency, but the most recent evaluation has found that he was insane at the time he drove a tractor over the cruisers.

The charges against Mr. Pion are: Aggravated assault with a weapon; seven charges of unlawful mischief; reckless operation; leaving the scene of an accident; two charges of using weapons to commit a crime; unlawful mischief; and driving while his license was under suspension.

contact Paul Lefebvre at [email protected]

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