BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A Salem man who allegedly prevented his 67-year-old disabled mother from leaving her apartment in her wheelchair by grabbing her around the throat was ordered held without bail yesterday.
Kenneth Sutton, 37, who had been staying with his mother in her Salem Heights apartment for the past five months, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment yesterday to charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and battery, and witness intimidation.
The incident occurred last month, on Feb. 21 or 22, the woman’s granddaughter told police. But the victim was too afraid to report the incident and, for a period of time, couldn’t, because Sutton also allegedly took her phones and her Lifeline medical alert bracelet.
Police were called to Salem Hospital on Friday afternoon by the granddaughter. The victim had been hospitalized with chest pains for two days, and her granddaughter was visiting when she disclosed what had happened to her.
The victim told police that she and her son had been arguing on that afternoon, and she tried to leave, fearful of being assaulted, something that had been happening recently.
But as the woman, who uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, tried to open the door, Sutton grabbed her around the throat and pulled her back inside the apartment, according to police.
“If you tell anybody about this, I will see you dead before I go back to jail,” Sutton allegedly told his mother.
The woman told police that she was so frightened by her son she couldn’t sleep, believing he might make good on his threat.
Police found Sutton when they went to the Pope Street apartment, where they said they could smell marijuana. Sutton was hiding in a bedroom closet when they showed up.
He denied assaulting his mother, insisting that their dispute had been verbal.
Prosecutor Lars Trautman filed a motion seeking to have Sutton held without bail for at least 90 days, arguing that he poses a danger if released.
Judge Michael Lauranzano scheduled a hearing on that request for March 11 and ordered that Sutton remain in custody at Middleton Jail at least until then.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.