Brownington man pleads not guilty to murder charge in Belvidere camp shooting

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Michael Chadwick, 61, of Brownington, left, appeared by video for his arraignment Thursday in Lamoille County Superior Criminal Court in Hyde Park from the North East Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury. Kirk Williams, his public defender, sits next to him. Screenshot

A day after a restraining order was granted prohibiting a Brownington man from traveling to a camp in Belvidere, he was charged with the murder of a man – the son of his ex-girlfriend – who s had gone to this camp to change the locks to prevent him from entering.

Michael Chadwick, 61, pleaded not guilty Thursday at a hearing in the Lamoille County Superior Court Criminal Division in Hyde Park on a charge of second-degree murder in the Wednesday afternoon shooting death of Mark Benjamin, 42, also from Brownington.

Chadwick participated in the hearing via video from the North East Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury. Judge Scot Kiine granted a request by Assistant Lamoille County District Attorney Aliena Gerhard to hold Chadwick in custody without bond.

Kirk Williams, public defender representing Chadwick, did not contest that claim.

A four-page affidavit provides new details about what led to the fatal shooting. Written by Detective Sgt. Isaac Merriam of the Vermont State Police and filed in support of the felony charge, it was released Thursday after Chadwick was arraigned.

According to the affidavit, Benjamin’s mother, Susan Benjamin, 67, also of Brownington, had a long-term relationship with Chadwick and had sought – and received – a final court order for redress of abuse against him on Tuesday.

In seeking relief from the abuse order against Chadwick on September 10, Susan Benjamin wrote in the filing that Chadwick had been physically and verbally abusive towards her for weeks.

Chadwick had filed a motion later Tuesday asking the judge to reconsider that final order, seeking to remove the Bog Road camp, where the shooting occurred, from places he was not allowed to go.

“I have nowhere to go,” he wrote in the one-paragraph filing, adding that he “will be on the streets. I am also handicapped and disabled.

Orleans County Superior Family Court Judge Thomas Devine denied that request.

On Wednesday, according to the affidavit, Susan Benjamin contacted Vermont State Police to report that Chadwick had violated the order by attempting to contact her by phone.

Mark Benjamin, her son, traveled to 2190 Bog Road in Belvidere where his mother owns property as well as a camp, the affidavit states.

Mark Benjamin’s husband, Richard Watt, told police he knew Mark Benjamin was going to the property to change the locks and was going to meet him there in a separate vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Watt told investigators that when he arrived at the property, he saw Chadwick standing in front of his Toyota pickup truck and Mark Benjamin inside a vehicle. Watt said he then drove around the back of the van and at that point Chandwick fired a gun through Mark Benjamin’s passenger side window, according to the affidavit.

Mark Benjamin drove the vehicle he was in down the camp driveway, got out of that car and jumped into Watt’s vehicle, the affidavit states. Watt told police he saw blood dripping from Mark Benjamin’s neck and attempted to provide assistance as he drove away from camp, eventually stopping about two miles away while still on Bog Road. .

According to the affidavit, Watt called 911 from Bog Road around 2:10 p.m., reporting that his wife had been shot. Emergency medical services workers responded, according to the affidavit, and attempted to provide treatment to Mark Benjamin, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:40 p.m.

Soldiers discovered that Chadwick was still at the camp, according to the affidavit, and speaking to Private Giancarlo Digenova by phone, he said he had a .22 caliber handgun with him and added that “he wished he had a bigger gun.

After a confrontation with police, according to the affidavit, Chadwick surrendered at around 4:35 p.m. and was taken into custody and transported to the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department in Hyde Park.

Chadwick, according to the affidavit, informed investigators of Tuesday’s hearing in which he was ordered not to be at the Bog Road property and advised them that he had been there. right after the hearing because he had nowhere to go.

According to the charging documents, Chadwick also said he called Susan Benjamin several times that night and left her voicemails telling her he was at camp. He also said that “he thought the police were going to show up that night and that he intended to kill himself if they showed up”.

But that didn’t happen. When Chadwick woke up on Wednesday, he told police he had visited a friend, Gary Broe from Franklin, and as he left after seeing that friend, he said to him, “It may be the last time I see you, I’m not leaving the camp,” according to the affidavit.

Chadwick told investigators that when he returned to camp, he saw that the door was missing a lock and then saw Mark Benjamin walk out of camp. Seconds later, Chadwick told police that “the incident happened,” according to the affidavit.

Chadwick said he fired two bullets from his .22 caliber handgun, according to charging documents.

“During the interview, Michael was asked if he knew that Mark had been shot,” the affidavit reads. “Michael said he believed he hit Mark because when he went to the police he noticed blood in Mark’s vehicle.”

Adam Silverman, a state police spokesman, said in an email Thursday in response to questions from VTDigger that at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, the state police dispatch received a call from Susan Benjamin reporting that Chadwick had violated the court order.

A soldier called her back three minutes later, Silverman added, “and made arrangements to see her in person and gather more information. However, the shooting happened just over an hour later. , before the soldier and Mrs. Benjamin had the chance to meet.

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