Huntington man pleads innocent to multiple charges after chase
MIDDLEBURY — A Huntington man on Monday pleaded innocent in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, to six separate charges — including attempting to elude police, driving under the influence and possession of narcotics — following a chase in Monkton on March 14.
Vermont State Police Trooper Tim Hanley was parked off Tyler Bridge Road in Monkton when he reported seeing a blue GMC truck speed by at 77 miles per hour in an area posted for 40 mph, according to court records. Hanley activated the blue lights on his cruiser, but the driver continued on at speeds of more than 80 mph before turning into a driveway on Turkey Lane, according to court records.
Hanley, in his court affidavit, reported finding Donald J. Catella, 43, standing next to the passenger door of the truck, claiming he had not been driving and that the actual driver had fled the scene on foot.
Hanley observed that Catella — who claimed to have spent time that evening at a Vergennes bar with the driver — “displayed bloodshot and watery eyes” and emitted a “strong odor of intoxicants,” according to court records.
Two other VSP troopers eventually arrived on the scene. In the meantime, Hanley said, he checked the area in which Catella said the driver fled.
“There were multiple other shoe prints in the snow in this area but they were glazed over and not fresh,” Hanley reported in his affidavit.
Police contacted the property owner, who said the shoe prints were his and were made while he was checking a maple sap line, according to court records.
But Catella continued to insist that he was a mere passenger in the vehicle, which belonged to the father of the person he alleged was driving that night, according to court records. Police contacted the alleged driver, who told police he had not given Catella permission to drive his father’s truck and that he had not been out that evening with Catella, according to Hanley’s affidavit.
While investigating the case, Hanley said, he detected “a moderate odor of fresh marijuana emitting from the vehicle,” according to court records. At that point, Hanley ordered the vehicle seized pending his application for a search warrant.
Based on that subsequent search and other research into the case, state police cited Catella for:
• Felony negligent operation of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.
• Felony operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
• Misdemeanor driving under the influence, second offense.
• Misdemeanor gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
• Misdemeanor providing false information to a police officer.
• Misdemeanor possession of narcotics. Authorities determined that Catella was in possession of some suboxone strips for which he did not have a prescription, according to court records.
Police also ticketed Catella for driving with a suspended license, according to court records.
“During the processing at the barracks, Catella stated that he would kill (whom he said was the driver) if he (Catella) had to take the charges for this incident,” Hanley stated in his affidavit. “Catella instructed me to write that down. I obliged.”
Hanley also reported that Catella declined to provide personal information, and refused to be fingerprinted and photographed, according to court records.
After being booked, police said they took Catella to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility for detox.
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