Alleged Cruiser Crusher Competent To Stand Trial - The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VT
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home : top news : top news November 24, 2015

10/16/2013 8:14:00 AM
Alleged Cruiser Crusher Competent To Stand Trial
Photo by Jennifer Hersey Cleveland
Roger Pion
+ click to enlarge

Photo by Jennifer Hersey Cleveland

Roger Pion

+ click to enlarge
Jennifer Hersey Cleveland
Staff Writer

NEWPORT CITY -- The man who garnered notoriety for allegedly crushing several police cruisers with a giant tractor in August 2012 has been found competent to stand trial.

Roger Pion, 35, of Newport was found incompetent to stand trial and hospitalized in January. Attorney David Sleigh withdrew from the case soon afterward.

After State's Attorney Alan Franklin requested a renewed competency evaluation, Pion was examined by Dr. Robert Linder, which resulted in the new finding of competency.

Pion, who is facing 14 counts, 10 of which are felonies, was scheduled to select a jury in November, but with new counsel at his side, Chandler Matson, more time is needed to prepare.

Matson requested a status conference in about a month to update the court on the how the case is progressing. Franklin and Matson agreed that selecting a jury in February would be a realistic time frame.

Pion has since been released from a mental health treatment facility.

Cruiser Crushing Incident

Pion allegedly used a Case tractor, with dual wheels on front and back, to line up and crush seven Orleans County Sheriff's Department vehicles Aug. 2, 2012, at the Derby headquarters.

Pion allegedly moved civilian vehicles out of harm's way before lining up cruisers to crush monster truck rally-style.

With the outside noise muffled by distance and whirring air conditioners, the deputies were not alerted to the trouble in their back yard until someone phoned in a 911 alert.

Pion allegedly cut the department's fleet in half, leaving deputies with no vehicles to pursue the man on the tractor.

After the incident at the Derby station, Pion headed toward Newport City, and when officers there attempted to arrest him, Pion allegedly backed the tractor up toward the cruiser.

Pion soon became somewhat of a sensation on Facebook, with supporters posting pages like "Roger Pion, the magnificent" and asking for money for his legal defense.

But the support largely died out by the time "Roger's Revolution," an event to protest a police state in which individual constitutional rights are no longer guaranteed, was held in late September 2012. Even Pion didn't attend the pig roast in his honor.

Since then, the sheriff's department sued Pion, as well as his parents Armand "Bones" and Linda Pion of Newport, seeking to recoup the $195,000 loss as well as punitive damages.

Pion is facing counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, unlawful mischief, reckless or grossly negligent operation, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage resulting, and carrying a weapon while committing a crime.

Bail was set at $50,000, with a 10 percent deposit to secure his release.

Mental Health Concerns

Shortly after his release on conditions, Pion was involuntarily committed, prior to the order in criminal court, after family members and other people cited concerns about his mental stability.

In September 2012, documents filed with the court suggested that Pion was suffering from mental instability and was being driven to action by voices in his head.

At that time, both the state and Pion's father and court-ordered custodian, Armand Pion, asked the court to order an emergency mental health evaluation.

Deputy State's Attorney Jim Lillicrap wrote at the time that he'd obtained information that Pion was being "told by god to harm someone by noon today," referring to Sept. 14, 2012.

In an attached affidavit, Lieutenant Kirk Cooper wrote that Pion had told an employee of his family that he was "advised by the gods to start shooting people."

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