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Connecticut Man Charged With Manslaughter Cites Safety As He Refuses To Return To Anguilla

AP-Hapgood.jpg
Bebeto Matthews
/
AP Photo
Scott Hapgood, a U.S. financial adviser from Darien charged with killing a hotel worker while on vacation in Anguilla, listens during a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, in New York.

A Darien man is refusing to return to the island where he’s been charged in the death of a hotel worker because he’s concerned for his safety.

Scott Hapgood was charged in April with manslaughter shortly after encountering what he said was an aggressive resort employee at the door of his vacation suite in Anguilla.

The two apparently fought, and the 27-year-old employee, Kenny Mitchel, died later in the hospital. Hapgood maintains that he was defending his family from Mitchel. According to Hapgood’s attorney, a forensic pathologist initially ruled that Mitchel died of asphyxiation related to the struggle but then revised the decision, attributing his death to a large amount of cocaine in his system.

Juliya Arbisman, Hapgood’s international lawyer, said her client has traveled to Anguilla three times since the April 13 incident, but he won’t be making it to his next court hearing because the family believes he is in danger -- he allegedly has received death threats. 

“People who are ignoring sort of the truth and the reality of how grave the situation is will say that he’s running from a trial, but that is 100 percent false and there is nothing more Scott wanted than to clear his name and get his life back,” Arbisman said. “But he cannot clear his name if he is dead or if the legal process by which he is bound is fundamentally biased.”

According to a court filing, Hapgood’s representatives had asked if he could appear via video link, but a judge denied the request.

“This decision was for the family to make -- only the family could make it,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Blumenthal said he’s pushed the State Department to protect Hapgood by demanding Anguillan and British authorities look after the American.

“They had to assess all of the risks and uncertainties and the future ramifications of this decision,” Blumenthal said. “I stand ready to continue to help them, as do my colleagues in the Congress.”

Blumenthal has been supporting Hapgood for several weeks. In October, the senator released two letters he sent in August and September to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in defense of Hapgood.

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