Man’s bail set at $100K in bogus bear report
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man who told police he urged his girlfriend to jump off a cliff in a drug-induced haze because of an imagined bear attack was being held on $100,000 bail on charges including attempted murder and arson.
Lucas Gingras had been held without bail since June 25. Judge James Crucitti changed bail conditions Monday and set special conditions if he’s released, including no possession of firearms, no contact with his girlfriend and that he wear a tracking device.
Gingras has pleaded not guilty. Authorities said he had taken MDMA and used the same drug to spike his girlfriend’s drink at a cabin in Milton, where he initially told investigators the couple had been attacked by a bear, leading to a stove being overturned and the cabin being set on fire.
But later, Gingras said he thought the drug caused him to hallucinate that a bear was near the cabin. Gingras said he believed he heard something trying to get into the cabin and set it on fire before the couple fled to the cliff where he urged his girlfriend to jump, police said.
Police said Gingras actually kicked Ladonna Merriman over the edge of the 70-foot-high cliff, leaving her hospitalized with injuries including a broken back and punctured lung. Chittenden County Deputy State’s Attorney Sarah George said Tuesday that Merriman is out of the hospital, undergoing extensive rehabilitation and is cooperating with prosecutors. A phone number listed in Merriman’s name was out of service.
Chittenden County prosecutor T.J. Donovan had said Gingras invented “an incredible fantastic story” to mislead investigators about his plan to kill his girlfriend. Donovan said Merriman had tried to leave Gingras in the days before her June 18 fall.