A day after turning himself in to authorities, Raul Cardona of Springfield, Massachusetts, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the Aug. 3 shooting death of Patrick Mullinnex in a Bennington apartment.
The shooting occurred just days after Mullinnex, 38, allegedly took part in a kidnapping in Springfield, Vermont, that police have said was tied to a dispute over drugs. Three other men have been charged in that case. Police identified Mullinnex as a suspect in that case shortly after his death.
At Tuesday’s arraignment in Bennington, State’s Attorney Erica Marthage asked that Cardona be held without bail and that he be ordered not to contact Mullinnex’s family. Judge Cortland Corsones agreed, citing the maximum penalty of life in prison and the court’s review of the 28-year-old defendant’s criminal history as reasons to keep him in custody.
Cardona was represented in court by Frederick Bragdon, Bennington supervising attorney for the Office of the Defender General.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Detective Corey Briggs, a witness called 911 at 9:14 a.m. on Aug. 3 to report a man with a gunshot wound was in an apartment at 324 Pleasant St.
Police found the man lying on the floor, unresponsive, according to the affidavit. Members of Bennington Rescue declared the man dead when they arrived. He had been shot several times in the chest, according to police, who identified the victim as Mullinnex.
The witness told police that Mullinnex had been their boyfriend for several weeks, and he was talking to a man in the apartment when he was shot, according to the affidavit. The witness said they tried to help Mullinnex before calling 911. The witness said they and Mullinnex had spent several days in the Bennington apartment after another person gave them a ride from Springfield, Vermont.
The witness identified Cardona as the alleged shooter in the Bennington apartment and said he was from Springfield, Massachusetts, and had been “really good friends” with the victim, according to the police affidavit.
The witness told police that after Cardona shot Mullinnex, he said to the witness, “I’m sorry, sis,” and when the witness asked what they should do, Cardona told them to “run,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit did not make any connection between Mullinnex’s death and the Springfield kidnapping.
Mullinnex was one of four people accused of kidnapping a Springfield man on July 30 in an apparent dispute over drugs. Investigators said Mullinnex and the three other men forced the kidnapping victim to leave his house, robbed him of cash and held him at a location in Chester, but the victim escaped.
Stay on top of all of Vermont's criminal justice news. Sign up here to get a weekly email with all of VTDigger's reporting on courts and crime.