Father and son arraigned after home invasion
Editor's note: This article was updated on Jan. 11, 2017, to correct the day Michael and Jonathan lenois were arraigned. They were arraigned on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
BRATTLEBORO — A father and son suspected of assault and robbery allegedly committed during a home invasion were held without bail after pleading not guilty to six charges.
Michael Lenois, 49, and Jonathan Lenois, 25, both appeared in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Tuesday afternoon. The two Brattleboro men are facing five felony charges: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary into an occupied dwelling while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon, assault and robbery with a weapon, and first-degree unlawful restraint. They're also facing a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.
At about 3 a.m. on Monday, the Brattleboro Police Department responded to 45 Canal St. for a reported assault. A female victim told police that Michael and Jonathan had knocked on her door then forced their way into her apartment. The victim said Michael threw her to the floor and held a knife to her throat. Jonathan allegedly went towards a male victim who was sitting in a chair and held a knife to his throat. The male victim did not provide a statement to police and said he did not want to be involved.
The female victim said Michael and Jonathan "pushed through" with knives in their hands and they "held me down trying to take bags from me," according to a police affidavit. On Monday, the police issued a press release saying the incident is believed to be motivated by drugs.
"I had one [bag] in each hand and Mike Lenois stabbed me in my hand," the victim said, according to the affidavit. "He had the knife to my throat and he told me that he's going to kill me, that I better give it up."
Jonathan "was holding a giant knife to the other person's throat the whole time to make sure he wouldn't move," according to the female victim. The victim said Michael cut her hand and she let go of a bag.
Jonathan and Michael left the residence after Jonathan moved through different rooms in the apartment, according to the affidavit. The female victim said Michael had a smaller knife and Jonathan had "a giant butcher-like machete-looking knife" that was about four inches thick with a six- to eight-inch blade.
Police said the victim had a small puncture wound on the webbing of her left hand, an abrasion on her right clavicle, a skin scratch on her left clavicle, a swollen left wrist, a scratch on her left wrist, two marks indicating a broken blood vessel on her right wrist and a large lump with pink inflamed skin on her back.
Michael has a pending heroin-dispensing case, Deputy State's Attorney Steven Brown told Judge Katherine Hayes. Committing a crime while released on conditions is a violation. Defense attorney Erik Valdes had requested that Michael be released on new conditions.
"We are very concerned about the escalating behavior Mr. Lenois is exhibiting in our community," Brown said. "And at this point, holding without bail pending at the very least the weight of the evidence hearing, seems quite appropriate."
Hayes said Michael "has not done well on probation" and noted the "significant opiate addiction" experienced by members of his family.
"Sadly, it appears the family has really struggled over the last several years," Hayes said. "The allegations are extremely concerning. The alleged conduct is extraordinarily violent. It's the kind of conduct that simply cannot be tolerated."
The victim was forced to turn over her drugs and did not try to hide the fact that this was an effort to steal heroin, Hayes said.
"She's not trying to protect herself from what is pretty serious criminal conduct," Hayes said. "That's at least my reading of the affidavit."
Regarding Jonathan, Brown said, "Mr. Lenois is way out of control" and "This is about keeping the public safe, about keeping the victims of the alleged crime safe."
"The defendant, just walking into the courtroom, is swearing at the two members of the press sitting behind me," Brown said. "That just shows the state of mind that Mr. Lenois currently is in."
Jonathan has a pending case for assault and robbery, which had conditions of release that were violated with the newest charges. Hayes called the similarity of the allegations "quite alarming."
"Jonathan is 25," Hayes said. "I don't think he turned 26 yet and he looks awful. I've never seen him look worse and I've seen him a number of times. He's clearly struggling from addiction. That's no excuse for his conduct."
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.
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