For Hartford Man, Time to Reflect on Intimidation Attempt
Joseph O'Keefe listens to his change of plea and sentencing proceedings for at the Windsor District Court in White River Junction, Vt., on Oct. 24, 2013. O'Keefe plead guilty to unlawful mischief for shooting into the bedroom of Hunter Truell and will spend one month in jail before facing five other charges. Valley News - Sarah Priestap
White River Junction — A 20-year-old Hartford man will serve a month in jail for shooting into the home of an associate to intimidate him.
But when he gets out, Joseph O’Keefe’s legal troubles will not be over. He still faces five more charges stemming from the incident last year when O’Keefe allegedly tried to scare off another Hartford man from talking with authorities about alleged drug involvement.
O’Keefe pleaded guilty to unlawful mischief, a misdemeanor, in Windsor Superior Court on Thursday. He still faces charges of obstructing justice, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, committing a crime with a weapon — all felonies — and misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and giving false information to a police officer.
“Mr. O’Keefe is a young guy who made a pretty significant mistake that could have endangered any number of people,” Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said in court. “When he comes out we’ll have a conversation about what he learned in there, and then I expect we’ll be back in front of the court.”
O’Keefe’s sentence begins at 6 p.m. Monday at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt. He appeared in court with his attorney, Wayne Young, with shaggy brown hair and wearing a gray collared shirt and tan pants. O’Keefe and his family declined to comment after the hearing.
“This is a bit of a shock treatment that you’ll be involved with,” Judge Karen Carroll told O’Keefe, in handing down his sentence. “When you come out, we’ll talk about your case. It’s creative and sounds like a good idea.”
In November 2012, O’Keefe allegedly fired several gunshots into the bedroom of Hartford resident Hunter Truell. No one was injured, although Truell and his sister were home at the time, according to court documents.
The shooting occurred around 1 a.m., and Truell told police he had fallen asleep while watching television and was woken when his dog began barking. Truell got up, turned on a few lights and checked on the dog. As he walked back to his bedroom, he heard the shots.
A police investigation after the incident led police to Kyle Doyle. According to a police report, Doyle told investigators that he, O’Keefe and another man named David Devost all went to Truell’s home that night to “shut him up because Truell gave out statements against them.”
The three men were trying to intimidate Truell, who Cahill, the state’s attorney, said had been talking to police about alleged drug involvement by O’Keefe.
Devost later confessed to his involvement in the shooting while being interviewed by Hartford Police, according to a police affidavit, and both he and Doyle pleaded guilty earlier this year to related charges in connection with the incident.
O’Keefe was charged with firing the shots into the home.
After Thursday’s hearing, Cahill said he did not view the crime as attempted murder, but instead a “foolish attempt” to send a warning to an associate not to speak to police.
“I think this is a chance for Mr. O’Keefe to experience what it’s like to be locked up for a month,” Cahill said. “After that experience, we’ll have a conversation about the lasting consequences.”
Devost, 21, pleaded guilty in July to simple assault attempted by menace and providing false information to a police officer, both misdemeanors. Devost was placed on probation with conditions that he must complete a restorative justice program and consent to electronic monitoring, among other conditions. His probation warrant expires in two years. Two charges against Devost were dropped during the plea deal.
Doyle, 19, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing justice and a misdemeanor of providing false information to a police officer in April. Doyle was sentenced to one year in prison and is currently at the Southern State Correctional Facility.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.