Thursday, July 22, 2010

Officer says he found bloody scene, victim

By Benjamin Yelle, The Keene Sentinel

There was blood everywhere — on the stairs, the railing leading to the door, in the kitchen and throughout the apartment on Brattleboro Road in Hinsdale.

The victim, a 44-year-old woman, had been stabbed twice — in the shoulder and in the side — and was moaning in pain when the officer arrived.

She was “covered in blood from head to toe,” said Senior Patrol Officer Michael Bomba, a 13-year veteran of the Hinsdale Police Department. “I can honestly say in 13 years, I’ve never seen anyone with that much blood on them.”

Bomba described the scene in Keene District Court Wednesday, during an evidence hearing in the case against Robert E. Sousie, 40, of 51 Brattleboro Road, No. 5, where the stabbing occurred.

After the hour-long hearing, Judge Edward J. Burke ruled there was enough evidence against Sousie to move the case forward to Cheshire County Superior Court, where felony-level cases are heard.

Sousie is charged with two counts of felony first-degree assault and a count of felony criminal restraint. He had also been charged with four counts of simple assault and a count of obstructing report of a crime or injury. Those charges were dismissed from District Court, but prosecutors can take them up again in Superior Court.

Bomba was the only witness to testify at the hearing, also known as a probable cause hearing.

Bomba said he was doing paperwork July 14 at about 8:25 p.m. when he received an emergency call about a domestic disturbance on Brattleboro Road. He called for backup and an ambulance, and when he arrived, he described finding a woman covered in blood, sitting with two other women.

One of the witnesses told police Sousie was inside, and “he said he wasn’t going to be alive when police arrive,” Bomba told the court.

While waiting for backup, Bomba pounded on the door, but got no response. When the two other officers got there, they kicked the door in and entered the apartment — Bomba with a Taser drawn, the other officers with their guns out.

“I was concerned Mr. Sousie was going to do harm to himself,” he said.

Inside was more blood.

Bomba walked through the apartment to a bedroom, where there was a “large area of blood,” he said.

He found Sousie lying in bed with the covers around him. He had cuts on his arms, but had cleaned himself up. He didn’t put up a struggle as Bomba handcuffed him, Bomba said.

Bomba said he noticed an odor of alcohol on Sousie’s breath and his eyes were glassy. After Sousie was read his rights, he started crying and apologized when Bomba asked him about the stabbing.

“He said, ‘I don’t know, I just snapped,’ ” Bomba said.

Sousie was “cooperative, polite,” Bomba said, and said he didn’t know what started the fight.

Bomba said he noticed several small cuts on Sousie’s arms, and Sousie told him he was a “cutter.”

“He advised me it makes him feel better to cut himself,” Bomba said.

After talking with Sousie, Bomba looked in the kitchen and found the knife the victim said she took from Sousie. Bomba described it as a “medieval decorative knife” with two blades. The victim’s cuts matched the blades, he said.

Bomba drove Sousie to Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene after the stabbing. He said the two had a “couple of brief conversations on and off.”

During those talks, Sousie asked if he should “end it ... to show her how sorry I am,” Bomba said.

Bomba also testified that he spoke to another officer who interviewed the victim, who said she and Sousie were partying earlier at a friend’s house, drinking beer and smoking marijuana, when Sousie began acting aggressively, ordering her to lift her shirt. The two were asked to leave the party and went back to the apartment, where Sousie started cutting himself with a razor blade.

When she tried to stop him, the fight started, Bomba said he was told. During the fight, Sousie allegedly choked and punched the woman and smashed her phone.

After the stabbing, Sousie tried to talk the victim into cleaning herself up, and he took a shower, Bomba said.

While he was in the shower, she left the apartment.

Public Defender Matthew Hill questioned Bomba about the victim’s account of what happened, confirming that Bomba didn’t directly talk to the woman except for briefly when he first arrived. He also questioned Bomba’s description of the knife as “decorative.”

He asked Bomba if he thought Sousie was suicidal and if Bomba was aware Sousie took medication. Bomba answered yes.

After the cross examination, Hill argued there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant the first-degree assault charges. He said the prosecution “has to show serious bodily injury. They have not done that.”

He said the wounds were superficial and, with Sousie’s mental health issues, it was possible the victim’s actions exacerbated the situation.

Regional Prosecutor Jay McCormack responded that the criteria for first-degree assault is that a deadly weapon is used to cause injury, and that the severity of the injury isn’t a factor.

The woman spent a night at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Bomba said; she was in court Wednesday, not showing signs of any serious injuries.

McCormack also argued that Sousie’s apology and remorse showed he was aware he’d done wrong.

“There certainly was bodily injury,” Judge Burke said, in ruling there was enough evidence to move the case forward.

Bail issues; prior convictions

Hill argued that Sousie deserved “reasonable, low-cash bail,” because he’s getting help through Monadnock Family Services, a community mental health program, and he has ties to the area.

Hill added that Sousie has cooperated with police and has a “minimal” criminal history. He said he wasn’t a danger to anyone.

“The incident seems to have been a fleeting one,” he said.

But McCormack countered that Sousie could still be a danger to the victim, to himself and to the neighbors at his apartment building, who could be witnesses in the case.

“The state feels he’s made credible threats of suicide,” he said. “ He’s admitted he’s a cutter because it feels good.”

He also argued that Sousie was convicted last year of animal cruelty for punching a pit bull in the face.

He argued that Sousie be held without bail.

Judge Burke sided with prosecution.

* Yet another animal abuser crosses the imaginary line from animal victim to human victim.

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