Sen. Blumenthal to hold press conference with Hapgood family in Darien
Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other state and local officials will appear with Scott and Kallie Hapgood on Monday Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. outside Darien Town Hall.
According to the Hapgoods’ spokesman, Blumenthal plans to show his support for the Hapgoods and press Anguilla for safe passage for Scott at his Nov. 11 hearing as well as more transparent proceedings.
Hapgood, 44, a Darien resident, is facing manslaughter charges in the death of Kenny Mitchel, a hotel worker in April during a violent struggle while on vacation with his family in the Caribbean.
Scott Hapgood will read a brief statement but will not be able to take questions due to the ongoing proceedings, his spokesman said. First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she will also be in attendance.
The Hapgood family has said the Darien man was defending himself and his young children after Kenny Mitchel came to their room to fix a bathroom sink. Hapgood contended the sink was never broken and no one called for someone to come to their room, but he trusted Mitchel because he was wearing a hotel uniform.
The family has accused Mitchel of pulling a knife, resulting in Hapgood “fighting for his life” and being bitten multiple times, including on the face.
Asking for help
As Hapgood’s November court date approaches, his family and friends have been circulating a petition and reaching out to local and federal officials for help — fearing for his safety. The petition created by Sarah Stabile seeks 6,500 signatures to support Hapgood — it has obtained 6,023 signatures as of Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.
A goal of the petition seems to be to get these officials “to intervene on Scott’s behalf,” as well as to allow Hapgood to participate in the trial from the United States for his safety.
The Hapgood family, in a statement exclusive to The Darien Times, said the petition is a result of the ongoing support and creativity of their friends and family.
“They want to make sure Scott’s unjust treatment doesn’t go unnoticed. Being able to see the actual number of individuals behind us gives us the continued strength we so desperately need as the next court date, November 11th, draws near,” they said.
Hapgood’s story was covered Monday, Oct. 14 on Fox & Friends and Trump mentioned the show’s hosts in his tweet. Hapgood’s wife, Kallie, appeared on the show.
“I’ve seen Trump help Americans around the globe and we really need his help,” Kallie Hapgood said on
President Donald Trump tweeted following the appearance that he would be “looking into the case of Scott Hapgood, accused of killing a handyman at an Anguilla resort.
“Will be looking into the Scott Hapgood case, and the Island of Anguilla,” Trump said on Twitter. “Something looks and sounds very wrong. I know Anguilla will want to see this case be properly and justly resolved!”
After Trump tweeted about the case, Kallie Hapgood told The Darien Times they have not heard from the president yet but are “so thrilled” to see him take an interest in their story. It is unclear if the White House has reached out since.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Oct. 14 that he had “worked over the past year” with both the U.S. State Department and the Hapgoods’ legal team “seeking fair and safe treatment in these foreign legal proceedings.”
“I’ll continue these efforts to assure a just outcome as swiftly as possible w/o unnecessary burden to him & his family,” Blumenthal said on Twitter.
Congressman Jim Himes’ representative said he has not had contact with the family since speaking with his attorney shortly after the incident in April.
“Through Hapgood’s local counsel, we made ourselves available to connect him to the State Department and do whatever we could to protect his safety and ensure fair proceedings. Our office also notified the State Department’s local consulate that Hapgood was our constituent and we would appreciate being kept apprised of his circumstances. Hapgood flew back home the following day, and we have not had any contact since,” his representative said.
The Darien Times has reached out to the White House Press Office and the Department of Justice — the Justice Department directed inquiries back to the White House.
An allegedly revised autopsy report, based on recently released toxicology tests, found Mitchel could have possibly died from a lethal dose of cocaine and not from injuries he sustained in the fight, according to a recent story by The New York Times.
“Acute cocaine toxicity could have been a potentially independent cause of death in the known circumstances,” reads the report by Dr. Stephen King, who oversaw the autopsy. The revised report, dated Sept. 3, was obtained by The New York Times.
A separate analysis of the new autopsy, conducted at the request of Hapgood’s lawyers by the Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Maryland, led to a similar finding.
Also obtained by the Times, the report described cocaine levels in Mitchel’s bloodstream “twice that commonly accepted to have a fatal outcome,” causing his lungs to fill with blood and suffocating him.
The revised report supports the defense’s claim Mitchel was allegedly behaving erratically and aggressively — common side effects for that level of drug use. Hapgood has said Mitchel threatened him with a knife and demanded money. Mitchel’s blood also had alcohol levels at twice the legal limit.
Darien Police recently told The Darien Times that although “they are aware that the Hapgood family has experienced behavior toward them that is offensive in nature, the circumstances have not risen to the level of probable cause that a criminal offense has taken place.”
“We’ll continue to work with the family on a case by case basis during this challenging time for them,” Captain Jeremiah Marron said.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told The Darien Times said she had also reached out to federal officials on the Hapgoods’ behalf.
“I would like to first express my sympathy to the family and friends of Kenny Mitchel. In spite of Mr. Mitchel being under the influence of significant amounts of drugs at the time of the incident, I feel for the family who has lost a loved one,” she said.
“Facts matter and I have faith that when presented with all the evidence, Anguilla authorities will have no choice but to clear Mr. Hapgood of all charges,” Stevenson said.
“Scott did what any father would do ... protect his family. I’ve pressed our federal representatives to use their considerable influence to ensure Scott’s safety if and when he travels to Anguilla. I pray he will be cleared off all wrongdoing if afforded a fair legal process,” she said.
The Darien Times will post an update following Monday’s press conference.