Dalton Man Ordered Back Into Custody After Alcohol Lapse
Due to a lapse with alcohol, the man accused in a Dalton blaze was ordered held in custody for up to 90 days, while awaiting trial on charges he torched a massive homemade Biden-Harris endorsement last fall.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that Lonnie Durfee is back to pretrial custody for violating pretrial release terms, Judge Paul Smyth ruled that no conditions of release exist to ensure the safety of the public from Durfee, given what he described as Durfee’s history of violent behavior while intoxicated.
Prosecutors said a monitoring device showed that Durfee consumed alcohol twice in recent months.
Defense lawyer Robert Sullivan had argued that severe alcohol use disorder was difficult to overcome and that Durfee who is working with a counselor at the Brien Center to try to stay sober should be permitted to continue wearing a monitoring device and to obey a curfew, which would allow him to keep his job as a laborer for a stone company.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Dohoney also introduced photos newly obtained from Durfee’s phone that showed Durfee standing beside at least one Black Lives Matter sign that had been set on fire, along with a burning Biden-Harris campaign sign.
The prosecutor could not say when the photos were taken but said they predate the hay-bale arson. Dohoney cited the photos as evidence of Durfee’s “escalating pattern of behavior.”
Judge Smyth said his ruling was based not on the newly obtained photos, but solely on the threat to public safety he said Durfee poses when consuming alcohol, based on prior acts.
Judge Smyth said,
“This is strictly on the alcohol use, and in making my decision it’s not simply a relapse I must consider, it’s public safety. And when I look at the different offenses over the years which involve alcohol and violence directed at police officers and directed at an intimate partner, it paints a very frightening picture about what happens when Mr. Durfee is intoxicated.”
According to prosecutors, Durfee’s alcohol monitoring device detected a blood alcohol level of 0.043 at 6:41 a.m. on Nov. 21. Prosecutors asked a judge to revoke Durfee’s bail at that time, but the request was denied, according to court documents. Then, just after 6 a.m. last Saturday, Durfee failed a second test that registered a blood alcohol level of 0.02.
Dohoney pointed to the newly obtained photos as evidence that Durfee’s alleged burning of the Biden-Harris hay bale display Oct. 9 was not an isolated incident, but “a persistent, escalating behavior of politically motivated burning.”
In a statement following the hearing, a spokesperson for Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said burning a BLM sign, while not the subject of criminal charges, was akin to hate speech.
Durfee is due back in court for a hearing on Feb. 12.