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Roger Pion shown competent for trial

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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

by Bethany M. Dunbar

NEWPORT — A new examination of Roger Pion’s mental health shows that he is currently competent to stand trial, attorneys and Judge Howard Van Benthuysen heard in the criminal division of Orleans Superior Court Tuesday.

His new lawyer, Chandler Matson, asked for some time to prepare for a trial.  He is the third attorney on the case and said he does not have all the records yet.  He said he is 60 to 70 percent up to speed.

Judge Van Benthuysen ordered a status conference to be set in 45 days with a trial date likely in February.

Mr. Pion, 35, of Newport, is charged with crushing seven police vehicles with a farm tractor on August 2, 2012.  In January it was ruled that he was not competent, and he was hospitalized.  He had told people he had heard voices and had a camera in his head, a police affidavit said.  He was ordered to comply with requirements of his treatment plan, including medications.

Since then his condition has improved, and a new examination was ordered.

Mr. Pion’s guardian ad litem, Ernest Zisslesberger, had not had time to read the new report on his condition.  For that reason, the judge did not rule that Mr. Pion is competent, but he said if the attorneys can stipulate to that effect once everyone has read the report, no other hearing would be needed on the issue of competency.

Mr. Matson asked for a change of his client’s conditions of release.  Currently he is allowed to travel in Orleans County with his father.

“Would it be possible to add his mother?” Mr. Matson asked.  The judge agreed and added her name.

Mr. Pion faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, unlawful mischief, reckless operation of a vehicle, leaving the scene of a crash, and operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

His bail was set at $50,000 and conditions of release include that he is not allowed to have contact with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and to abide by a curfew.

contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]

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