BURLINGTON — The Chittenden County state’s attorney charged Dean T. Heffernan, 27, of Bristol with attempted murder, first degree, at a Thursday morning arraignment at the criminal division of Chittenden County Superior Court.
Heffernan pleaded innocent to a charge that carries a penalty ranging according to court documents from "a presumptive minimum term of 35 years" to life in prison.
Vermont State Police had first charged Heffernan with aggravated assault after arresting him Wednesday following an early morning Hinesburg shooting incident. VSP allege Heffernan early on Tuesday morning fired four shots at a car driven on Route 116 by Shawn Holbrook, 24, of Hinesburg.
Heffernan is being held without bail at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility until Aug. 15, when a bail review hearing has been scheduled.
According to the affidavit by VSP Sgt. Todd Baxter filed at Heffernan’s arraignment, the shooting occurred after a drug deal went bad at Heffernan’s Bristol home on Monkton Road.
VSP searched the home of Dean and Kate Heffernan, 26, later on Wednesday and said they found 14 bags of heroin, an undisclosed amount of hashish, 31 “assorted narcotic tablets,” and a Beretta 38-caliber handgun they allege Heffernan used to shoot at Holbrook’s car.
Kate Heffernan, 26, Dean Heffernan’s wife, was cited to appear in court on Aug. 29 on drug possession charges.
The VSP affidavit offers differing versions of what went wrong at the Heffernans’ mobile home late on Tuesday night. After calling VSP to report the shooting, Holbrook admitted buying four bags of heroin for $25 apiece, but said he only gave the Heffernans $75.
In Holbrook’s story, he said the Heffernans accused him of only giving them $50, and that he ran away. When he did so, he told VSP that he heard Dean Heffernan say, “You’re dead.”
In separate interviews with VSP, both Heffernans said Holbrook punched Kate Heffernan and took heroin without paying. According to the affidavit, Dean Heffernan told VSP he chased Holbrook down the driveway and ripped a side mirror off Holbrook’s white 2001 Subaru. It was missing that mirror and had two bullet holes in its side and a broken driver’s window when police met with Holbrook that evening, according to court documents.
Kate Heffernan told VSP that Holbrook handed her “two crumpled up $1 bills that he represented as” $100 and $50 bills. When she confronted him about it, she said Holbrook punched her, grabbed six bags of heroin and fled, according to the affidavit.
Holbrook, who has not been charged, said he threw the heroin out of the car when he swung south through Bristol before heading home to Hinesburg.
Both Heffernans then, according to the affidavit, drove to Hinesburg. Kate Heffernan allegedly called Holbrook’s wife and made a false report of an accident, an apparent ploy to determine where he lived. Then, they waited and intercepted his car just south of the intersection of Mechanicsville Road and Route 116, in the Hinesburg village.
Holbrook alleged the Heffernans’ red truck veered into his lane before he heard four loud bangs. He told police he found the bullet holes when he returned home.
Again, versions differed. In his affidavit, Sgt. Baxter said Dean Heffernan told police that Holbrook was all over the road trying to get by when Heffernan passed him on his driver side.
“They were (driving) side by side when Mr. Heffernan pulled out his .380 and fired four rounds,” Baxter’s affidavit said. “Mr. Heffernan stated he was trying to hit the back of Shawn’s vehicle and the tires of the vehicle with the rounds he fired. He explained he wasn’t trying to hurt him, he just wanted him to stop.”
When police examined Holbrook’s vehicle, they “observed what appeared to be two bullet holes in the upper portion of the driver’s side door,” according to the affidavit. At the scene, they found shattered glass, three .38-caliber bullet casings and bullet fragments.
After obtaining warrants that Wednesday, VSP established a perimeter around the Heffernans’ home at 717 Monkton Road, and searched the Bristol area. Just before 11 a.m., two VSP troopers stopped the Heffernans driving their red truck near their home on Monkton Road; they were arrested and interviewed in the VSP New Haven barracks.
At first, according to the affidavit, both “did not tell the truth,” but eventually both told their versions of the events of late Tuesday and early Wednesday, including the fact they had buried the gun in a cornfield near their home, and put materials used to clean their truck after the shooting into a grocery bag and tossed it into woods off Forge Road. Police later found the gun and the grocery bag, according to the affidavit.
Judge Michael Kupersmith presided over the arraignment. Heffernan’s request for a public defender was approved.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.