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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Newport, Vt.) - Roger Pion, 34, of Newport, Vt., appeared in a Newport courtroom Tuesday, accused of a destructive rampage last week that flattened seven vehicles belonging to the Orleans County Sheriff's Dept. Pion plead not guilty to 13 criminal charges stemming from that alleged attack.
Investigators said Pion flew into a rage over a recent arrest, and drove a massive farm tractor to Sheriff Kirk Martin's headquarters in Derby and used the tractor’s big wheels to make pancakes of the police cars parked out back.
"Anything can happen," sighed Chief Deputy Phil Brooks.
Brooks and investigators from other agencies have said Pion flew into a rage over a recent arrest, suspecting that anger spawned the attack.
Pion's lawyer, David Sleigh, argued the most serious allegation of trying to assault law enforcement officers with a weapon should be tossed, claiming Pion never wanted to injure anyone with the tractor.
"He didn't say, 'I'm going to get you,'" Sleigh told Vt. Superior Court Judge Robert Bent. "There's no indications Roger intended to hurt anyone."
While Judge Bent considers that request, Sleigh entered pro-forma not guilty pleas on the charge, and the others.
Tina Thompson, a self-described good friend of Pion, attended Tuesday's hearing. She told New England Cable News she believes Pion must have snapped after what she called years and years of harassment by local police agencies.
"Roger is one of the nicest guys you've ever met," Thompson said. "You can only push something or someone so long before finally they're going to do something."
The Orleans County Sheriff's Dept. insisted it never targeted Pion. "I don't put too much stock in it," Chief Deputy Brooks told NECN.
Brooks said he and his fellow officers just want to focus on serving the people of Orleans County. "It's back to work," he said.
As for Roger Pion, he headed back to his jail cell after the court hearing in the back seat of a sheriff's department cruiser from another county. Pion is being held on $50,000 bail.