ROCKLAND, Maine — A 40-year-old Rockland man was expected to be released on bail Friday after police charged him with assaulting a 62-year-old neighbor over snow plowing during a storm in February.
But the judge who presided over Marion West’s initial appearance in Rockland District Court also questioned why the prosecution had the suspect arrested and sought cash bail, rather than a simple summons.
West was arrested Wednesday night and taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland where bail was set at $1,000 cash on charges of assault and criminal threatening.
According to the affidavit filed in Rockland District Court, a Rockland woman called police on the evening of Feb. 9 to say that West and his girlfriend had been yelling at her for where the snow plow driver had deposited snow in the driveway shared by multiple people. The plow driver had left and the woman told police she was shoveling.
The affidavit did not explain why she was being criticized for where the plow driver had deposited the snow.
Following her verbal argument with West’s girlfriend, the 62-year-old woman said that West grabbed her snow shovel, yanked her hard toward him and then pushed her such that she went airborne and landed in the snow.
The woman said that West stood over her and shouted obscenities and threatened to kill her, according to the affidavit. The woman told police she feared for her life.
When Officer Andrew Redden arrived, he attempted to speak to West but the man refused to talk to the officer and would not let the officer into his residence. He told the officer that he was not to come back unless he had a warrant.
The woman provided a written statement to police and an arrest warrant was issued. West was arrested Wednesday evening.
At West’s initial court appearance Friday afternoon, Judge Daniel Billings agreed to set unsecured bail of $1,000. He said he did not understand why the prosecution acted the way it did in this case. Billings said he has presided over many assault cases in Knox County recently and that the practice is generally to issue a summons for the person to appear in court.
“It seems like the only reason the defendant is being treated differently is because he did not speak to police officers. I’m just not seeing it. I’m just lost here,” Billings said about the district attorney’s office request for $1,000 cash bail and why the suspect was arrested.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Baroody said it was based on the threats made and the potential for future conduct. The prosecutor pointed out that West had convictions in 1997-98 that included violating court protective orders.
Defense attorney William Pagnano said, however, those cases were old. He said West has lived in Rockland for 20 years and is not a flight risk. He said that the cash bail was high considering that West’s only income was disability payments.