Prosecutor seeks bail revocation for South Royalton man accused of stealing neighbor’s crossbow 

Jesse J. Durkee (Vermont State Police photograph)

Jesse J. Durkee (Vermont State Police photograph)

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 11-10-2023 3:37 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A South Royalton man who was charged with breaking into a neighbor’s house last month is facing new charges after he allegedly broke into the home of a second neighbor and stole a crossbow before a third neighbor got the man to give up the weapon when he showed up at her home claiming a motorcycle gang was out to kill him.

Jesse Durkee, of Avery Lane in South Royalton, was arraigned last Friday in Windsor County Court and charged with burglary into an occupied dwelling, a felony, in addition to possessing stolen property as well as violating his conditions of release, both misdemeanors.

Durkee’s alleged second break-in occurred the day before Halloween, only a week after the first alleged incident on Oct. 23.

On Monday afternoon, the Windsor County prosecutor sought to have Durkee’s bail revoked over the violation of his conditions of release, but Superior Court Judge Heather Gray put off ruling on the request after Durkee’s attorney argued the state’s motion failed to cite properly the case law it relied upon as required.

“The state’s motion is legally insufficient on its face, and we ask the court to deny it without any further evidence,” said Durkee’s defense attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, during the approximately 15-minute hearing which at which a state’s witness was present and ready to testify and other of the defendant’s neighbors had attended to observe.

Emily Zukauskas, Windsor County deputy state’s attorney, said that the initial motion to revoke bail cited the applicable statute but was prepared “extremely quickly” on Friday in order to meet court’s hearing date set on the next business day. Zukauskas said the state would be refiling the motion to revoke Durkee’s bail with the necessary case law cited.

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Police said they were called to a welfare check on Durkee on Oct. 29 because neighbors were complaining that he was in the yard of his residence on Avery Lane “with a machete and yelling people were after him,” according to an affidavit prepared by Loretta Stalnaker, Royalton’s police chief.

Officers responded and attempted to get Durkee to seek medical care, but he declined.

Then the next morning, Oct. 30, Durkee’s neighbor on Avery Lane reported to police that someone broke into his home while he was away overnight, stole a crossbow and broke light fixtures.

A few hours earlier that same morning, another of Durkee’s neighbors reported that she and other family members had been awakened at 2:30 a.m. to find Durkee yelling outside their home and “frantic,” according to Vermont State Police.

The neighbor, a former corrections officer, said in her statement to police that she managed to “calm” down Durkee and persuade him to hand over the crossbow. Durkee explained to her that another neighbor on his street has given him the crossbow for his own personal “protection.”

Durkee told the woman members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang were trying to kill him, the affidavit said.

“I told (Jesse) that everything is alright and that he is safe with us and that the Hell’s Angels would not get him,” the neighbor wrote in her statement to police. “I told him that I was an ex-correction officer and that the Hell’s Angels would have to get through me before I let them get him. He started to calm down. We told him to go sit on the small porch and that he will be safe.”

Durkee “started to act weird again,” so the family members walked with him over to his residence on the next street and around his property “so that he could see no one was out to kill him,” the neighbor said.

In the previous incident, Durkee was arrested and charged with breaking into another neighbor’s home and threatening the occupants in the early morning hours of Oct. 23. The neighbor was awakened by the barking of the family’s dog, grabbed his gun and fired it in the direction of Durkee as he came through the door but did not strike him, according to authorities.

Earlier this year, Durkee was charged with criminal threatening, reckless endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon when he allegedly was part of a group of people who got into a confrontation with guns on Moses Lane in South Royalton. A pre-trial conference on the charges is set for Jan. 4.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.