ST. ALBANS CITY — Rodney Lesperance pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder in court here Tuesday afternoon.
Judge Scot Kline ordered Lesperance, a 44-year-old St. Albans City resident, held without bail.
Kline said there’s sufficient evidence to do so. But he also said the court is scheduling a hearing on the weight of the evidence within the next two weeks, at which Lesperance’s attorneys will argue he’s eligible for bail.
Lesperance faces up to life in prison and at least 20 years if convicted of the charge.
By his own account, Lesperance stabbed his roommate, Nicholas Luciano, according to St. Albans Police Dept. Officer Mark Schwartz’s affidavit.
The SAPD responded to Lesperance and Luciano’s Thorpe Avenue apartment at 4:59 a.m. Monday.
Schwartz wrote that Lesperance frantically ushered police into a bedroom upon their arrival, shouting “Come! Come! Come!”
Lesperance was completely covered in blood, according to Schwartz’s affidavit.
Schwartz found Luciano in the bedroom, lying on his back on a bed. Schwartz wrote he recognized Luciano.
Schwartz wrote, “There was blood all over the bed and on nearly every part of Luciano’s body,” as well as a large kitchen knife beside his body.
Luciano was not moving but appeared to be “slightly breathing,” according to Schwartz’s affidavit.
Schwartz wrote Lesperance was hysterically “screeching ‘Help my friend! Please help my friend!’” and that when Schwartz asked Lesperance who stabbed Luciano, Lesperance said, “I did! I did! ... He said he was going to kill me and hurt me!”
SAPD Officer Kaylie Cadorette took Lesperance into another room while Schwartz medically attended to Luciano. Schwartz wrote he grabbed the medical kit from the back of his cruiser and administered a tourniquet and a pressure bandage.
Schwartz wrote he saw a puncture wound near Luciano’s right jugular and a puncture wound in the center of Luciano’s chest as well as a slashing wound under Luciano’s right armpit.
AmCare medics arrived on scene and attended to Luciano.
Meanwhile, according to Cadorette’s supplemental affidavit, Lesperance “made several comments to the effect of ‘it was all out of self-defense’ and was rambling on about how he ‘wasn’t even in the Marines.’”
Officers took Lesperance to the SAPD after AmCare medics transported Lesperance to the Northwestern Medical Center. Medics later transported Lesperance to the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Schwartz wrote Lesperance was crying and having a hard time breathing, that he was focused on the blood on his hands and “very concerned about Luciano.”
Schwartz wrote Lesperance told him he and Luciano had been roommates for four years.
Lesperance told Schwartz, “I told him not to hurt me,” according to the affidavit.
Lesperance said he and Luciano were drinking on Kingman Street for the Marine Corps birthday, Schwartz wrote. Luciano was a Marine.
Lesperance and Luciano got into an argument over a game of pool.
Lesperance told Schwartz Luciano smashed his glass at the bar at J.W. Ryan’s Pub and may have broken Lesperance’s leg. Lesperance said Luciano went back to his apartment and Lesperance stayed behind for an hour and a half before “limping” back to their apartment.
Schwartz later observed Lesperance had a partially swollen right ankle and “some blood” near his left ear.
Chad Boudreau, J.W. Ryan’s bar manager, came into the SAPD later that morning and described seeing Lesperance and Luciano in the bar the night before.
Boudreau told police he’d seen Lesperance and Luciano highly intoxicated in the past and they weren’t. He said the duo wrestled and somehow Lesperance hurt his ankle.
Lesperance got upset and told Luciano he goes too far when they wrestle, Boudreau told police. That upset Luciano, who then struck Lesperance in the ear, Boudreau said, according to Schwartz’s affidavit.
Boudreau said he separated the two. He said Luciano grabbed him by the shirt and threatened to hit him.
Then Luciano left the bar and went home in a hurry. He left his cell phone and jacket behind.
Boudreau said Lesperance went back to Boudreau’s apartment to cool down. Boudreau said Lesperance stayed there a couple hours.
Boudreau said Lesperance was still upset with Luciano when he left.
“I don’t belong in a pen,” Boudreau reported Lesperance saying. “I belong on the outside.”
Public defender Paul Groce, who with public defender Steve Dunham acted as Lesperance’s counsel in court Tuesday, asserted Schwartz’s affidavit suggests Lesperance could have acted in self-defense. Groce pointed out that Lesperance himself immediately called police and that Luciano was aggressive earlier that night.
But Deputy State’s Attorney Deb Celis said nothing in the affidavit suggests self-defense to the level that would require repeated stabbing. She said Lesperance had no apparent injury beyond that to his ear and noted the approximately two hours between Lesperance and Luciano’s pub fight and Lesperance’s return home.
Kline ordered the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to transport Lesperance for medical evaluation at Groce’s request. Groce said the exam’s purpose was to determine the nature of Lesperance’s own injuries, which could bolster his defense.
The results of that evaluation may come up at a future the weight of the evidence hearing, which the Messenger will cover.