Vt. Shooting Suspect Held Without Bail

White River Junction — A New Jersey man is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to four charges relating to a violent altercation Wednesday in Springfield, Vt., that police say involved a dispute over heroin and resulted in one man being shot and injuries to two other people.

Leon Jiggetts, 26, of Newark, N.J., plea ded not guilty Friday in Windsor Superior Court to second-degree attempted murder, assault and robbery with injury resulting, unlawful trespass and carrying a weapon while committing a felony .

At Friday’s hearing, Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill argued that the right to bail no longer applies when someone has been charged with a crime punishable with a sentence of life in prison, such as Jiggetts’ attempted murder charge.

Prosecutors allege that Jiggetts — accompanied by Jabbar Chandler, 33, of Charlestown, and a 16-year-old male — entered a Summer Street apartment Wednesday afternoon and shot Joseph Atkinson, 19, of Springfield. Police believe that the group intended to confront Atkinson because he was spreading rumors about the 16-year-old stealing money from drug deals. Police say that Jiggetts shot Atkinson and the teen hit him with a baseball bat.

On Thursday morning, Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen said Atkinson was in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Hospital officials have not since updated his condition, saying they have not been authorized to release medical information about him.

After the shooting, Chandler allegedly got into a fight with one of the residents of the apartment, Timothy Carleton, 30, and Carleton was struck on the back of the head with a gun, authorities said . It is unclear how the other resident of the apartment, Amanda Booker, 24, sustained her injury.

Police believe that the three men fled the scene, and had Chandler’s girlfriend drive them to Bellows Falls, Vt.

According to an affidavit filed with the court, the Bellows Falls police recovered a baseball bat in some bushes off of Church Street. They also found a .22 caliber handgun and .45 caliber ammunition left on the side of the road that Kathy Chandler, Jabbar Chandler’s sister, said she had placed after being asked to her by her brother.

In court Friday, Cahill said that Jiggetts should be regarded as a habitual offender because he has been convicted of four felonies. As such, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on any one of the felony charges he faces, Cahill said.

Cahill said the evidence is particularly great on the charge of unlawful trespass. He said that though witnesses differ on what happened in the apartment, none of them allege that Jiggetts was invited in.

In arguing that bail be denied, Cahill said that Jiggetts has very few ties to the area and that he is a convicted drug dealer in New Jersey and a suspected drug dealer in Vermont.

Cabot Teachout, who was temporarily representing Jiggetts, argued that the court should consider home detention when another attorney is appointed to represent Jiggetts. Jiggetts has been living in the Brattleboro, Vt., area for two years without charges, Teachout said, and he is employed as a landscaper. Teachout also said that Jiggetts is the stepfather to two children, that his grandfather recently died and that he is seeking to have his grandmother relocated to continue his relationship with her.

Judge Karen Carroll ordered Jiggetts held without bail but said that “further arguments about bail can happen” when he acquires permanent representation.

On Friday, Jiggetts also pleaded not guilty to five charges in Windham County, including two counts each of sale and possession of heroin and a separate charge for the sale of cocaine.

Chandler remains in police custody and will likely be arraigned Monday on charges of unlawful trespass and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, said Cahill. Cahill also said that Atkinson, the shooting victim, and the 16-year-old may face charges.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.