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The attorney for a Lisbon man accused of abducting a 9-year-old girl from the Stonington police department parking lot on New Year's Eve, triggering an Amber Alert and leading police on a multi-state chase said the entire incident has been "blown out" of proportion.
Attorney Anthony Basilica, who is representing Daniel E. Candales, 42, said Thursday in court that his client was on his way to drop off his 5-year-old daughter at the Stonington Police Department. Basilica said that Candales brought his girlfriend to the drop-off because she was intoxicated and didn't want to leave her alone with her 9-year-old daughter.
Basilica said Candales and the girlfriend got into an argument at the police station and that Candales took off, hoping to diffuse the situation and calm her down. Basilica said that Candales didn't realize that the girlfriend had left her cellphone in his car, and he wasn't able to communicate with her.
Basilica said that when police started to chase him, he didn't pull over because of his previous dealings with them and that he simply panicked.
After the brief court hearing, Basilica said his client realized that he made a mistake and should have pulled over.
Prosecutor Mary Jean Kanabis objected to the notion that Candales didn't mean to flee, saying that the girlfriend had shined a flashlight in front of the car so that he would stop and that Candales refused to comply with police lights and sirens to pull over. Police also have said they tried to stop Candales from leaving the parking lot.
Candales' ex-wife also was present in court and told Judge John Nazzaro that their 5-year-old daughter had witnessed Candales strike his girlfriend while they were on the way to Stonington police.
"This is very frustrating for me," the woman said. "My daughter is afraid of him."
Candales had pleaded no contest last January to five counts of violation of a protective order and third-degree assault. He was placed on GPS monitoring and ordered to take domestic violence classes. If he had successfully completed the court's order, he would have been given a suspended sentence. Now, he faces up to eight years in prison.
Nazzaro deferred sentencing so that the Judge Kevin McMahon, who had made the agreement, could revisit the case and decide what the next step would be.
Nazzaro, however, noted that the case was serious and did increase the bonds. He placed a $25,000 cash only bond on each of the six cases that he pleaded out to last January and increased the Stonington case by an additional $10,000. Candales had made a $175,000 cash bond in connection with the chase.
Candales was expected to post his $160,000 bond. Nazzaro said if Candales did make bond, he would be subject to GPS monitoring and home confinement.
The court also issued protective orders for the two minor children and ordered that Candales stay away from the girlfriend's home. The court also appointed an attorney for the 9-year-old.
According to police, Candales drove his pickup truck with a plow and sander attached to the police station parking lot about 7:05 p.m. for a custody exchange with his ex-wife. When a police officer came outside and told Candales not to leave, he drove off with the 9-year-old girl in the cab.
Stonington police spotted Candales and pursued him through Pawcatuck and Westerly before Hopkinton police took over the pursuit. Candales later crossed back into Connecticut on Route 49, and Hopkinton police broke off the chase. A bulletin was put out to local departments for Candales, who owns a landscaping and snow plowing business in Lisbon.
By locating and tracking his cellphone signal, police took Candales and the girl into custody in Richmond, R.I. The girl was uninjured.
Stonington police charged him with two counts of risk of injury to a minor, breach of peace, engaging police in pursuit, reckless driving and first-degree unlawful restraint.
Candales' case was continued to Jan. 17.
After the hearing, the ex-wife's attorney, Gregory Carnese, said his client was hoping that Candales would have been sentenced Thursday.
"Hopefully, he will get what he deserves," Carnese said.