Three of the six teenagers who Shelburne police say were involved in a bungled drug deal that turned into an armed robbery, with one student shot with a pellet gun, have pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and robbery.
An eight-page police affidavit outlines how one group of Champlain Valley Union High School students planned to use guns and knives to rob other CVU students who were in a silver SUV delivering what was thought to be $600 worth of marijuana to a home on Brentwood Drive off Spear Street on Nov. 11.
Three 17-year-olds — Francis “Frankie” Berard and Kenneth Reynolds, both of Shelburne, and a friend, Reeve Dashnow of Milton, —were released on conditions from Vermont Superior Court after pleading not guilty to the felony charge last week.
In a news release, Shelburne police said they had ordered three other students into adult criminal court, but the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office said Tuesday there is a lack of probable cause to charge them at this time.
The case remains under investigation, Deputy State’s Attorney Ryan Richards and Acting Police Chief Aaron Noble told the Shelburne News.
Judge Nancy Waples ruled the defendants are not have contact with each other, including in person, by phone, in writing, email or through third parties, whether in jail or released. Waples also directed them not to abuse or harass three other students or to go on their property.
A 15-year-old who has not been identified told police he was approached about selling 30 grams of marijuana to Reynolds, but he did not have the requested amount, the court affidavit said. The juvenile said he gave Reynolds the phone number for a Williston teenager who has sold marijuana, police reported.
The Williston teen, who also attends CVU, is expected to face juvenile court proceedings on a charge of possession of marijuana in the case, Shelburne police said.
Investigation revealed he was making a marijuana delivery when robbed, police said. In the affidavit, Officer Josh Flore said the Williston teen was shot in the neck with a pellet gun during a scuffle. Two pictures of the wounded 17-year-old are included in the affidavit.
Reynolds said that, when he got into the front seat of the SUV to buy the drugs, somebody in the back seat put a knife to his throat, Flore wrote in the affidavit. Reynolds said his friends walked up to the SUV and, when Berard saw a gun between the driver and console, he pulled out his pellet rifle, which he had been using to hunt possums, and told the driver not to reach for the gun, police said. They said Berard fired a shot and the driver then fled.
Police said they found the injured Williston teen at the University of Vermont Medical Center, where he was treated for the neck wound. The pellet went about 1 inch into his throat and was removed and stored as evidence, Flore said in the court affidavit.
The wounded teen told police that, when he arrived at the residence with his girlfriend, he saw a bunch of young boys with hoodies and masks surround the SUV, Flore wrote. The officer reported that, at that point, the teen’s parents interrupted the police interview to consult a lawyer.
The girlfriend of the Williston teen told police that, when they arrived in Shelburne, they were told they were going to be robbed of their drugs, but she maintained they had not brought any, Flore wrote. He said she reported a knife was pointed at her.
When the SUV fled the area, it backed into a parked car and fled, police said. A witness called police about the hit-and-run accident, but the focus of the investigation soon changed as Flore and Officer Bob Lake worked through the night to piece things together.
Shelburne police later obtained a search warrant for the home of the Williston teen and reported they seized a pellet gun, white powder and a glass jar with possible marijuana residue in his bedroom, and two Mason jars in the garage: one containing possible marijuana and the other with possible marijuana residue, court records show.
Staff writer Mark Kobzik contributed to this report.