Published September 10. 2013 4:00PM Updated September 10. 2013 11:50PM
A Danielson man who strangled a former girlfriend to the point where she passed out in May 2012, then held a loaded pistol to a neighbor’s stomach, received a fully suspended prison sentence and four years of probation Tuesday after successfully completing a substance abuse rehabilitation program.
The case of Paul Carrier, 31, was transferred from the Windham Judicial District to New London because one of the victims works in the Danielson courthouse. Carrier was incarcerated for 11 months following his arrest and was released in March to Help Inc., a Waterbury-based mental health and addiction program. He has since completed the program and moved into a sober house.
Carrier had pleaded guilty to violation of a protective order, two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, illegal discharge of a firearm, third-degree strangulation, criminal possession of a firearm and interfering with an officer. He pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine — which means he doesn’t agree with the allegations — not because he denies the charges, but because “he simply could not remember both of these incidents,” according to his attorney, M. Fred DeCaprio.
“It’s an extremely ugly, frightening, troubling incident,” said prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla of the May 1, 2012, incident.
After attempting to strangle his former girlfriend, whom he was forbidden by court order to contact, Carrier, who was drunk, left her home and asked neighbors he encountered for some alcohol before holding a loaded pistol to a man’s stomach while the man’s wife looked on, according to Tytla.
When state police arrived, Carrier disobeyed their orders to drop the gun and put the barrel into his mouth and threatened to kill himself. Troopers were able to disarm him.
Tytla said the troopers had put themselves at risk and were to be commended. He said others would have shot Carrier.
In a Jan. 25, 2012, incident, Carrier, again under the influence of alcohol and threatening suicide, fired a loaded shotgun inside a home after an incident with his girlfriend, according to Tytla.
Tytla had recommended a sentence of three years in prison, which did not satisfy the victims. Carrier’s attorney argued for a fully suspended sentence based on his progress while his case was pending.
“I don’t think Paul ever intended to hurt anyone other than himself,” DeCaprio said. He said Carrier had a terrible childhood and a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, but that “if he stays clean, he’ll be fine.” Carrier wants to return to his job as a commercial fisherman, DeCaprio said.
Judge Susan B. Handy said she had allowed Carrier to enter the Help program over the state’s objection, and he succeeded. She said she was going to take another chance on him and give him a fully suspended sentence. She warned him to comply with the conditions of probation or he would be locked up for a long time.
“I know the decision I make today is not going to please a lot of people, but that’s the job I have to do,” she said.