FARMINGTON — A Jay man pleaded guilty Friday to pointing a loaded handgun at two women in a vehicle in December 2016 while his young child was in the back seat of the truck.
Jacob Couture, 27, was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all of it suspended and one year of probation, Andrews said. A conviction on the charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Couture entered an Alford plea in Franklin County Superior Court to a charge of terrorizing with a dangerous weapon.
An Alford plea is based on a defendant’s belief that he is not guilty but thinks that if the jury believed the state’s evidence, he would be found guilty.
The state dismissed misdemeanor charges of threatening display of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child in the plea agreement.
If the matter went to trial, Jamie Merrill of Hartford would testify that she was driving on Route 4 in Jay toward Farmington when a double lane narrowed to one lane and she drove in front of a truck as the lanes merged, Deputy District Attorney James Andrews said.
She would testify that the truck driver seemed to be annoyed and was following closely behind her vehicle.
Witnesses would also testify that the truck driver displayed a large handgun as his truck passed the vehicle and he appeared to be pointing it at them, Andrews said.
Merrill had another woman and young children in the vehicle, Farmington police said last year.
When Merrill’s vehicle passed the truck, the witnesses would testify that the gun was pointed at them again as they continued to drive toward Walmart in Farmington and when the truck was in front of the vehicle again, they could see the gun pointed at them through the back window of the truck in the vicinity of Walmart.
Farmington police responded to the incident and stopped a truck matching the description given to them on Wilton Road near Burger King, across from Mt. Blue Plaza.
A loaded .357 magnum handgun was found in the vehicle matching the witnesses’ description.
Andrews said Couture had no criminal history. He was charged with burglary and theft in 2010, but those were later dismissed, Andrews said.
Judge Maria Woodman told Couture he was extremely fortunate to be receiving the sentence in the plea agreement.
Andrews said messages were left with both women and a letter was sent to each of them about the plea agreement and notifying them that Couture would appear Friday in court. The women were not in the courtroom.
Woodman said Couture must understand that he has actually terrified these people.
Couture hesitated before he said, “I understand what you are saying.”
His version of what happened is different from theirs, his attorney John Martin said.
“He does understand the significance of this,” Martin said.
As part of the agreement, Couture’s Taurus magnum handgun was forfeited.
Jacob Couture (Franklin County Detention Center)