A Pownal man Darren Pronto has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal slashing of a woman in Bennington on Monday.

The Bennington Banner reports that The state has accused Darren Pronto, 32, of committing the crime “by lying in wait and intentionally killing Emily Hamann with a knife.” He pleaded not guilty at Bennington Superior criminal court on Tuesday.

WNYT Albany

First-degree murder carries a penalty of 35 years to life in prison or life without the possibility of parole.

Superior Judge Cortland Corsones ordered Pronto held without bail until a bail hearing can be held, granting the request of Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage.

Pronto, who was represented by the county public defender’s office, His attorney, Fred Bragdon, asked for a bail hearing at a later date so they could have more time to gather information.

Bennington Police Department
Bennington Police Department

The relationship between Pronto and Hamann is unclear, as well as the motive for the alleged slashing. The assault reportedly happened around 11:15 a.m. Monday along the Walloomsac River walkway, between North and School streets.

Police said they found Pronto heading north on School Street and arrested him after a brief struggle. They found a knife in his right pocket, which appeared to have blood, said BPD Officer Benjamin Lackey in a supplemental affidavit.

Police said Pronto’s clothes were taken as evidence, including tan cargo shorts that contained reddish brown stains around the right front pocket. Burnham said Pronto declined to speak with him after being read his Miranda rights.

The officer said Pronto referred to the victim as “Emily Grace,” which were her first and middle names.

Burnham said Pronto’s sister told him he was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. And that over the weekend, he’d carved out the phrase “Murder Time” into a wall of his mother’s home.

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