PROVIDENCE — The state's Supreme Court has upheld a conviction against a Hope Valley man in connection with a 10-hour standoff in his home near the center of Hope Valley in 2014.
A panel of judges last week denied an appeal by 46-year-old Michael Neugent, who was a resident of 5A Side Hill Road at the time of the incident, that sought to overturn the conviction and a decision by the original trial justice to reject a motion for a new trial in the case.
"The trial justice weighed the evidence establishing that the defendant was aware of the police presence outside his apartment," the court decision says. "He found the state's witnesses to be credible and both the defendant's and (his then-girfriend Joyce) Kreyssig's testimony to be completely unbelievable."
Neugent was convicted by jury trial of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest in October 2016 for his role in the 10-hour standoff with Hopkinton police.
According to police and court documents, Kreyssig called police after a domestic dispute between the two at the Side Hill Road apartment they were both living in at the time. Kreyssig told police Neugent was in possession of a .22-caliber rifle later found under a bed in the home in the home as well. Police later said they had also found two swords without sheaths.
After a 10-hour standoff in which police made multiple efforts to talk Neugent into surrendering peacefully — a court document indicated that at one point, Neugent's cell phone battery died and the police broke a window to throw another one in to continue talks — a state police tactical response team, concerned over a potential hostage situation, entered the residence and sought to take Neugent into custody.
Police reports said once the SWAT team entered, Neugent swung a 4-foot carpenter's level at a trooper and hit the trooper's shield, throwing him back. Neugent was then taken into custody after a brief struggle.
As a result of the conviction, Neugent was sentenced in February 2017 to serve five years for the felony assault and one year, to be served concurrently, for resisting arrest. Both sentences were suspended pending successful completion of five years of probation.
Neugent, however, has maintained that he was not aware that police were entering his home, and argued both during the trial and in court documents during his appeals process that he struck the officer's shield in self-defense. Neugent told a jury that he never looked outside and was not aware that a standoff was occurring.
He further argued that, despite multiple witnesses testifying against him, he dropped all weapons and surrendered after realizing the police were in his home and did not fight the arrest. Multiple officers from both the Rhode Island State Police and Hopkinton Police Department challenged his account, as did the prosecution.
Records show his appeal went through several stages before it was submitted to the Supreme Court in October for adjudication. Following arguments, court officials wrote that there was no evidence to corroborate Neugent's account of the events or to overturn the trial judge's decision..
"After the trial justice declared that he would have reached the same result as the jury, his analysis was complete. Therefore, we conclude that the trial justice did not err in denying the motion for a new trial."