A Vineyard Haven man will face trial later this month in Dukes County Superior Court for allegedly raping a woman at knifepoint in West Tisbury two years ago.
The Hon. Mary-Lou Rup, an associate justice of superior court, will preside over that case and a number of other criminal and civil cases during the five-week spring superior court session which opened this week in the Edgartown courthouse.
A Dukes County grand jury convened Monday to consider several criminal indictments and is expected to reconvene later in the session, scheduled to conclude May 2.
Although several criminal cases previously slated for jury trial were disposed of through plea bargain agreements this week, the trial of Scott Donavan, 35, who allegedly broke into the home of a West Tisbury woman in August of 2006 and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint, is set for trial on April 22.
Mr. Donavan was indicted by a grand jury last fall on nine counts: aggravated rape, assault to rape, home invasion, kidnapping, armed assault in a dwelling, armed burglary, two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and larceny of a motor vehicle. If convicted, he faces the possibility of life in prison.
Dressed in a gray suit and tie while wearing arm and leg shackles, the defendant appeared in court Monday afternoon for a pretrial conference before Judge Rup.
Cape and Islands assistant district attorney Laura Marshard argued for a motion that Mr. Donavan submit to a full psychological evaluation. Judge Rup denied the motion, but noted the commonwealth would have strong grounds to renew its motion during the trial if the defense pursues a not-guilty defense by reason of insanity.
Mr. Donavan’s attorney Thomas Mello moved to continue the case until the fall superior court session. Ms. Marshard argued against the motion, noting the case is now 18 months old, the oldest on the docket.
Mr. Mello said he may argue there was a lack of criminal responsibility because his client was suffering from the effects of certain narcotics at the time of the alleged assault and rape, including the prescription drug ativan. He said the prosecution had recently added several witnesses to the list and new evidence had been compiled as recently as two weeks ago.
“I couldn’t possibly prepare for a trial in two weeks . . . it will be a trial by ambush,” he said.
But Ms. Marshard said several of the witnesses were added for rebuttal purposes only after the defense announced in January it may pursue a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. She said the commonwealth has made every piece of evidence, including witness lists, available during the discovery phase of the trial.
“To argue this is trial by ambush is a bit disingenuous, when the defense declared their intent to pursue an insanity defense [in January], forcing us to respond with expert witnesses in only a two-month period,” Ms. Marshard said.
Judge Rup denied the motion for a continuance and scheduled a final pretrial conference on April 17.
Several other cases were resolved this week through plea bargain agreements. Three codefendants — David Cabral of New Bedford, Lance Gomes of North Dartmouth and Kenneth Hurd of West Tisbury and Florida — who reportedly broke into an Edgartown home and stole items totaling about $24,000, agreed to plea bargains.
Edgartown police initially charged all three with receiving stolen property greater than $250.
Mr. Cabral was later charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Mr. Gomes was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to violate a drug law.
On Tuesday, both Mr. Gomes and Mr. Cabral agreed to terms offered by the commonwealth requiring them to spend three years in MCI Cedar Junction prison in Walpole followed by a year of probation. Mr. Hurd received a two-year probation for the single charge of receiving stolen property.
Tommy Joe Gordineer, 47, of Edgartown, also agreed to a plea bargain and was sentenced to two and a half years in jail with 18 months served, followed by four years of probation. Mr. Gordineer was indicted on six counts: two counts of larceny over $250, one count of larceny under $250, one count of larceny from a building and two counts of receiving stolen property over $250.
As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Gordineer pleaded guilty to one count of larceny under $250, one county of larceny over $250 and one count of larceny from a building.