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NEW MILFORD Board-wielding attacker gets five-year sentence

September 19, 2018

NEW MILFORD -- A man accused of terrorizing and assaulting his elderly neighbors recently accepted a plea deal that calls for five years in prison.

Authorities said Michael Saunders was likely hallucinating when he broke through the back door of his neighbors’ house last summer armed with a wooden two-by-four.

Saunders charged into the Finkle home last June yelling about being pursued, said police.

Bee and JoAnne Finkle tried to keep him out, but he broke through the back door and into the kitchen, where he fought with Bee and Mike Finkle.

Bee Finkle, a 61-year-old woman who weighs less than 100 pounds, suffered a concussion while Mike Finkle had cuts along his arms and hands from the struggle.

By the time police arrived, “blood was all over the kitchen like a pig was slaughtered,” JoAnne said.

Police originally aimed their stun gun at Bee, who was holding a baseball bat for protection and was covered in blood, before they took down Saunders and placed him under arrest.

“We are happy that he is going to be spending some time in prison, but we are also hopeful that he gets the help he needs,” Finkle said when she heard a plea deal was in the works. “He doesn’t need to be out and about the way he is right now.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Dawn Gallo said Saunders pleaded guilty this week under the Alford Doctrine to one count of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault on a person over the age of 60.

A plea under the doctrine means a person disputes some of the facts of the case, but admits the state has enough evidence for a conviction.

The plea deal, Gallo said, calls for a 10-year prison term suspended after five years served. Saunders will also be required to serve five years of probation when he is released from prison.

Saunders is expected to be sentenced Dec. 14 in Litchfield Superior Court.

dperrefort@newstimes.com

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