ST. ALBANS CITY — A man accused of impersonating a game warden and assaulting a Highgate man is attempting to have the charges against him dismissed.
Judge Cortland Corsones on Friday said he would take the motion under advisement and would issue a decision as soon as possible.
Douglas Barratt, 53, pleaded not guilty in December in Franklin County Superior Court to charges of impersonation of a public officer and aggravated assault. Barratt is being held at Northwest State Correctional Facility on $50,000 bail, according to court records.
Police say Barratt and 29-year-old Storm Choiniere went to the residence of a Highgate man around 3:30 a.m. Nov. 20. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the men identified themselves as “fish and game” and asked to look at the victim’s truck because they heard someone was illegally taking deer. When the man asked for identification, Barratt and Choiniere allegedly attacked him.
According to the affidavit, the victim suffered a bloody nose, abrasions on his head and strangulation-type marks on his neck.
Defense attorney Steve Dunham filed a motion to dismiss the charges on April 29, claiming the currently available evidence doesn’t prove Barratt specifically was involved.
In its rebuttal, filed May 7, Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie contends that “when taken in the light most favorable to the state, adequate evidence exists to prove the defendant’s identity.”
“We acknowledged from the outset that the identification issue is pivotal and based on circumstantial evidence, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to maintain prosecution against Mr. Barratt,” Lavoie said during Friday’s hearing.
Lavoie said the victim told police that prior to the assault, two men came to his house wanting to buy two fuel tanks, and were irritated when the victim refused. The man said he felt one of the two may have been the masked man who assaulted him, and said they live “in a tent down the road,” which police say is located at Barratt’s residence.
In a photo lineup, the victim identified Barratt as one of the men who attempted to buy the fuel tanks, according to court records.
Police also discovered a glove in the driveway where the assailants allegedly parked their vehicle on the night of the assault. A matching glove was discovered during a search of the defendant’s home, according to court records. Barratt told police the truck — seen in surveillance video from a neighbor — belonged to him, according to court records.
However, Dunham contends that multiple people had lived at Barratt’s residence, including Choiniere, and would have had access to the truck. He also pointed out that items police found during the search warrant — including a 9mm handgun — that were associated with the crime were found in a trailer on the property that someone else was living in, not in the house itself where Barratt was living.
Dunham noted that the victim, during testimony Friday, said the masked assailant was taller than Choiniere. Dunham said Barratt is 5 feet 7 inches tall while Choiniere is 5 feet 10 inches tall.
“We would say the evidence falls far short” of a case, Dunham contended.