Accused killer arraigned on federal gun charges | Local News | benningtonbanner.com

2022-08-27 13:33:38 By : Ms. Sara Zhao

Scattered thunderstorms during the evening, with mostly cloudy skies after midnight. Low 61F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%..

Scattered thunderstorms during the evening, with mostly cloudy skies after midnight. Low 61F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.

Deven Moffitt at his hearing Friday morning via video link from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. 

Deven Moffitt at his hearing Friday morning via video link from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. 

BENNINGTON — A 32-year-old Bennington man, being held on second-degree murder charges for the death of his ex-girlfriend three summers ago, is expected to face related gun and drug charges in federal court.

Deven Moffitt is charged with killing Jessica Hildenbrandt, whose remains were discovered near an old gravel pit in Searsburg in September 2019 by a man who discovered what looked like a human jawbone. Detectives believe Hildenbrandt was killed sometime between July 14 and 15, 2019. It is believed that Moffitt had an ongoing romantic relationship with Hildenbrandt, who, according to police affidavits, was in fear of her life from Moffitt.

Moffitt also was facing gun and drug charges, and was scheduled to have a weight of evidence hearing and an arraignment on the new charges Friday morning in Bennington Superior Court. That hearing had to be postponed, however. Defense attorney Robert Sussman learned that the state had dismissed those state charges the previous day, because Moffitt already had been indicted in a federal court on the same charges stemming from the same incident.

A federal grand jury in the District of Vermont indicted Moffitt in late June on three counts — possession of fentanyl and cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of illegal firearms in furtherance of a crime  and unlawful possession of firearms by a convicted felon shipped through interstate commerce.

Vermont law does not allow charges in a state court that already are being prosecuted in a federal case. Prosecutor Robert Plunkett dismissed the new charges Friday “without prejudice,” meaning the state can re-charge Moffitt at any time in the future if the federal charges are dismissed. 

Moffitt originally was charged in Bennington County with five counts related to the same incident that the federal indictment covers, including cocaine possession, fentanyl trafficking, two counts of illegal firearm possession by a known felon and unlawful possessing firearms while committing a crime.

On June 1, members of the Vermont State Police, FBI, Homeland Security and the Bennington Police Department participated in a joint operation to arrest Moffitt for the murder of Hildenbrandt. Officers approached Moffit, who was at the time wearing a sling-style black backpack and a fanny pack.

Moffitt fled when police got close but arrested him after a brief foot chase. Moffitt still had the fanny pack in his possession, which was filled with cash. After interviewing witnesses, they discovered Moffitt had dumped the backpack in a trash can. Inside the backpack, police found two fully loaded handguns, about 3,570 bags of fentanyl, 20 grams of crack cocaine, 22 grams of cocaine powder, a digital scale  and a Vermont EBT benefits card. 

Moffitt faces a life sentence if he is convicted of the murder in the second-degree charge in Bennington court. He faces upward of 50 years behind bars, plus a possible $750,000 fine if convicted of all of the pending federal charges.

Moffitt is being held without bail at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. No weight of evidence hearing has yet been rescheduled on the murder charge.

BENNINGTON — A Bennington man accused in a 2019 homicide was officially arraigned Friday on a single second-degree murder charge and is also n…

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