Windsor County man with string of pending charges back in court after police say they found him with stolen car, loaded gun

By ETHAN WEINSTEIN

VtDigger

Published: 04-05-2023 11:52 AM

A Windsor County man previously accused of stealing a Dartmouth-Hitchcock shuttle bus was arraigned in a new case on Tuesday after state police said they discovered him in possession of another stolen truck and a loaded handgun.

Mitchell Horton, 35, pleaded not guilty to possessing a deadly weapon while committing a crime and violating conditions of release, among other charges.

Horton has eight previous felony convictions and nine pending court dockets in Windsor County. He was out of prison on conditions when police arrested him on Monday, according to Emily Zukauskas, deputy state’s attorney in Windsor County.

Vermont State Police Trooper Eric Clemens wrote in an affidavit that officers responding on Monday to a report of a suspicious man in Cavendish discovered Horton in the back of a white Ford utility truck with “what appeared to be a pump to collect fuel” and “multiple fuel containers.” A similar vehicle had been seen attempting to steal fuel from the Cavendish town garage on Sunday, Clemens wrote.

Once police detained Horton, they discovered he had a loaded .380 pistol, according to the affidavit. After checking the utility truck’s vehicle identification number, the troopers discovered the vehicle had been reported stolen from a Pittsfield auto shop the previous week, along with a Harley Davidson motorcycle and tools. All in all, about $35,000 in items were stolen, the shop’s manager told police.

Horton’s arraignment in Windsor County criminal court on Tuesday was briefly delayed when a defendant in an unrelated case picked up a landline phone within the video conferencing room at the Springfield prison, where Horton was lodged, and used it to beat the video kiosk until it stopped working.

Once court resumed, Windsor County Superior Court Judge John Treadwell ordered Horton held on $20,000 cash bond.

Horton has a long history in the Windsor County judicial system. More than a decade ago, he pleaded guilty to four counts of felony burglary after breaking into properties around Springfield and West Windsor.

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Horton engaged in a day-long crime spree last June, police have said, first stealing and crashing a car before requiring treatment at Springfield Hospital and later Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Police allege Horton fled DHMC, stealing a hospital shuttle that was idling in the parking lot and driving the bus south on Interstate 91 at speeds of 70 to 80 mph before getting the vehicle stuck behind a barn in Springfield.

He was later taken into custody and again taken by police to Springfield Hospital and DHMC for treatment of his injuries. In that case, Horton pleaded not guilty to grossly negligent operation of a vehicle, eluding a police officer, operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and possession of stolen property.

Horton, initially held on bail, was allowed to leave Southern State Correctional Facility on the condition that he immediately enter a residential drug treatment facility, the Valley News reported in July. Treadwell, who also presided in that case, allowed Horton to leave residential treatment as long as he complied with the facility’s post-inpatient program.

At the time of the arrest related to the DHMC shuttle, Horton had three outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court, police said.

In a pending case stemming from a February 2021 incident, Horton is accused of stealing an ATM with more than $30,000 in it from the Downers Corner Store in Weathersfield. According to an affidavit written by Weathersfield Police Chief William Daniels, Horton and an accomplice allegedly tied a rope to the store’s door, attached the rope to their GMC truck, and ripped off the door, forcing entry.

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