Spokesperson: Scott Hapgood skipped latest hearing in Anguilla due to safety concerns
The Darien man charged with manslaughter in the death of an Anguilla hotel worker did not attend his latest hearing Monday due to safety concerns, a spokesperson says.
Scott Hapgood had returned to the island for hearings three previous times, telling the media he was intent on clearing his name.
His spokesperson said Hapgood can't go back because officials there won't give him a fair trial or guarantee his safety.
Hapgood is accused of killing Kenny Mitchel, a handyman at the five-star resort where the Hapgoods stayed in April.
A spokesperson for the family said Monday that Hapgood's legal team and federal lawmakers tried to guarantee Hapgood would be protected on the island and allowed to return home on bail after the hearing ended, but Anguilla officials couldn't make those assurances.
"There were certainly threats to the safety and security of Scott Hapgood, and there were justified fears about the fairness of the legal proceeding," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Hapgood says what happened was self-defense and that Mitchel showed up to the family's room unannounced and tried to rob them.
The initial autopsy ruled Mitchel was choked and beaten to death, but toxicology tests later showed Mitchel had alcohol and drugs in his system, including a lethal dose of cocaine.
Haydn Hughes is a radio talk show host on Anguilla and a former member of Parliament. Hughes says skipping this hearing is proof Hapgood is running from a trial.
"There is no precedent to say that he wouldn't get a fair trial," said Hughes. "I think it's all public relations. I think it's optics. I think it's trying to pull on the heartstrings of probably many people in Anguilla."
Hapgood's attorney released a statement disputing that, saying in part, "There is nothing Scott wants more than to clear his name and get his life back. But he cannot clear his name if he is dead, or if the legal process by which he is bound is fundamentally biased and unjust."
Blumenthal said Monday he will continue to support the Hapgoods but made clear the decision to stay in Connecticut was a decision made by the family and not the State Department or United States senators.