DARIEN — A Connecticut man, charged with manslaughter in the death of a hotel worker in Anguilla, has declined to return to the British Caribbean island for his latest pretrial hearing, for various reasons.
“When the Anguillan government couldn’t assure him of safe passage and a fair and transparent process and new information coming to the fore that Scott’s life was likely in jeopardy if he returned,” said Darien First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson.
A spokesman for Scott Hapgood says Anguillan officials have not given assurances that his client would be allowed to return home on bond. Spokesman Jamie Diaferia says there also have been death threats against Hapgood.
And, Hapgood’s attorney, Juliya Arbisman, says three independent medical experts have now concluded that the Hapgood’s attacker, Kenny Mitchel, who faced a pending rape charge, died due to massive amounts of drugs in his system.
“The Chief Medical Examiner revised his report to say that the gentleman had two times the lethal dose of cocaine in his system along with, I understand, marijuana and alcohol,” said the First Selectwoman.
Hapgood and his family say Mitchel, a hotel worker, showed up at their room unannounced during their April vacation and demanded money before attacking them at knifepoint.
Federal officials, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have expressed concern about Hapgood's safety.
Blumenthal said in a statement:
“This difficult decision was for the family to make, and only the family could fully assess the personal risks and uncertainties. I worked with Senate colleagues and the State Department in seeking to assure Scott Hapgood’s physical safety and fair, transparent legal proceedings. The State Department had discussions with British and Anguillan authorities. I continue to stand ready to help the Hapgood family in any appropriate way.”
Neighbors of the Hapgood’s have mostly wanted to keep to themselves, but they are concerned.
“We don’t know what the legal system works, how it works there and anything can happen,” said neighbor Frank Lombardi.
Diaferia said Anguilla officials rejected an offer for Hapgood to appear by video link for Monday's hearing.
He also says the family expects Anguillan authorities will soon make their intentions known regarding any potential extradition of Hapgood.