Court to weigh Bennington murder defendant’s competency for trial

Aug 17 2022, 6:54 PM

BENNINGTON — The case of a man accused of fatally slashing a woman in downtown Bennington last year remains in limbo, as a competency hearing to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial has been delayed until October.

The defendant, Darren Pronto, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 26-year-old Emily Hamman in January 2021. Pronto, 33, of Pownal, has pleaded not guilty and undergone two competency evaluations, each conducted by a psychologist.

Pronto’s first evaluation, which the court ordered, found him not competent to stand trial.

The Bennington Superior criminal court granted the state’s request for a second evaluation after prosecutors said the first one included “errors, omissions and deviations from best practices.” The results of the examination are not accessible to the public.

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Bennington County Deputy State’s Attorney Jared Bianchi said prosecutors and Pronto’s defense team tried but failed to reach a resolution in his case. Both parties asked to proceed to a competency hearing in early fall.

Judge Cortland Corsones has scheduled the hearing sometime in the first week of October. The exact date has not yet been determined.

Pronto, who declined to appear for the hearing, was originally scheduled for a competency hearing on Wednesday. He is being held at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

The relationship between Pronto and Hamann remains unclear, same with his motive for the alleged attack.

First-degree murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

— Tiffany Tan

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