A gruesome assault in the Northeast Kingdom this weekend left a man clinging to life. His alleged attacker was in court Monday facing attempted murder charges.
Evan Rapoza stayed calm as he faced charges that could bring him life in prison. "I ask the court to enter his pleas of not guilty," defense attorney Ben Black told Vt. Superior Court Judge Brian Grearson.
St. Johnsbury police say Rapoza attacked a furnace repairman, 50-year-old Michael Kuligoski, an employee of Fred's Propane in Lyndonville. Kuligoski had gone to the Rapozas' property on Maple Street in St. Johnsbury when the 21-year-old allegedly hit Kuligoski over the head with a foot-long wrench.
"This wrench was soaked in blood so bad that the handle looked as though it had been painted red," investigators wrote in court paperwork.
On top of the wrench beating, police say Rapoza dragged his victim across the basement floor, tried drowning him in a bucket of water and wrapped a belt around his neck twice, attempting to strangle him.
Police say when they arrived, they found Rapoza huddled against the wall in the fetal position.
"The defendant has displayed a variety of mental health and competency issues," Caledonia County Deputy Prosecutor Benjamin Luna told the court.
Investigators say Evan Rapoza wouldn't or couldn't tell them his name. "I asked several more times with no response," one officer wrote in court documents. "Just a blank stare. Evan stated at this point, 'arrest me' and stood up."
Nothing in Monday's court hearing or in police documents indicated a possible motive or what sparked the violence, or even if Rapoza had ever met the victim before. Police say Rapoza's brother and father were in the house and lost track of where he was. Then, when they looked for him, they found the blood-covered basement floor and Kuligoski barely conscious.
Rapoza pled not guilty. Judge Grearson ordered him held without bail. Rapoza is also scheduled for a competency hearing at the state's mental hospital.
Kuligoski is still at Dartmouth Hitchcock. He's reportedly been stabilized but is in critical condition. Police say he suffered fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, and head wounds. Two of his family members were at the court hearing. They declined comment but were obviously very upset and shaken up.
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