Darien first selectman candidate served prison term

DARIEN -- Chris Noe, the petitioning candidate running for first selectmen, served nearly three years in prison for first-degree assault after he was arrested on charges of shooting a man in Stonington in 1983.

He was also arrested for trespassing and breach of peace in Darien in 1995.

On Aug. 1, 1983, Noe, then 23, was charged with attempted murder in the shooting of William McCabe at a party July 30, 1983. McCabe, 22, underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition.

On Apr. 3, 1984, Noe pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended after four years served, and five years probation. The court also recommended that Noe receive alcohol and psychiatric treatment while incarcerated.

Noe was released from prison in October 1986, after serving "two years, eight months, two weeks and four days," he said.

The incident was self defense, Noe said. McCabe and two friends had beaten Noe and his girlfriend at a Stonington bar eight months before the July incident, Noe said.

"Out of my peripheral vision, I see someone coming. ... I turn my head into this guy`s fist. With that punch ... I went flying out of the bar stool. I knocked down three or four of those little bar tables, and something hit me at the back of my head, at the base of my skull," he said.

From then on, Noe said he carried a licensed gun with him as a safety precaution.

"The responsibility of carrying a gun is unfortunately, I had to use it. In all my years of pistol training, I never practiced shooting at a target running at me from 25 feet away. By the time I discharged it, he was only three feet away from me," Noe said. "I pointed it at him and fired."

Almost nine years after he was released from prison, Noe was arrested by Darien police for a trespassing incident. Though he could not remember the specific charges, Noe said he was involved in a fight in a neighbor`s backyard.

According to Noe, his neighbors were out of town and asked him to keep an eye on their property. At 9 p.m. Oct. 25, 1995, Noe was in their backyard when he saw someone inside the house with a flashlight.

"I walked from the back lawn to the patio and could see a naked woman with a flashlight shining it on herself in the window, and I just chuckled for a second," he said. "I thought this was kind of humorous.

"A car pulled in the driveway, and I figured it was the guy who lived upstairs," he said. "The guy comes walking around, and he says, `What are you doing?` and I said, `I`m enjoying the show. You`ve got to see this.` He comes over and punches me in the face."

Noe said the man tackled him and the two wrestled, after which Noe "ran off and went home." The police were called, and Noe was arrested.

Connecticut law does not prevent someone with a criminal record from running for office.

"If his right are restored, then there`s nothing in state legislature barring him from running," said Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. "There`s no statue requiring him to disclose this information. It`s public information."

Democratic candidate for first selectman Callie Sullivan said she thinks there should be a law requiring those seeking elected office to disclose any "missteps or mistakes" in their past, similar to the vetting process potential employees undergo while applying for jobs.

"I think the voters are entitled to know if someone who wants to be a chief elected official has in fact broken a law in the past," said Sullivan, who said she had heard rumors about Noe`s criminal past but was unsure whether to believe them.

"It`s just disappointing because I mean that now there`s going to be a new level of scrutiny," Sullivan said. "Had he come forward earlier and made it plain to people, I think they would be reasonably forgiving, but not being 100 percent transparent as an elected official is never a good idea."

Republican first selectman candidate David Campbell said he has known about Noe`s past for a long time.

"He did something very bad, and he also paid for it," he said. "So I guess if it`s legal, it`s fine."

Noe said he doesn`t think the 26- and 14-year-old incidents should affect his chances Tuesday.

"It`s ancient history. We all draw on life experiences, and clearly I have some different experiences to draw from. ... I just think, through all this, I had an opportunity to learn from it and move on," he said.