Northfield teen pleads not guilty to attempted murder charges
BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - A Northfield teen is being held without bail on attempted murder charges after police say he tried to kill two women this past March. Aleksander Cherkasov pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in Washington County Court Thursday after being extradited from Nevada.
Until now, the 19-year-old Cherkasov had been sitting in a Las Vegas jail for several weeks awaiting extradition to the Green Mountain State. U.S. Marshals handed him off Thursday afternoon to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department prior to his arraignment.
Police say Cherkasov fled Vermont in March after he ran two women off of Turkey Hill Road in Northfield. Cherkasov’s girlfriend and her friend were inside the car.
Northfield Police coordinated the nationwide search. Nevada authorities finally caught Cherkasov in the town of Mesquite early last month.
“This has been over two months that he was on the run, so the state did believe he is a flight risk,” said Washington County Deputy State’s Attorney Kristin Gozzi.
Cherkasov’s parents sat behind their son in the courtroom. Police say his mother, Jennifer Canfield, helped her son to evade authorities and was with him in Nevada. Both parents declined to comment to WCAX.
Jessica Burke, Cherkasov’s defense attorney, called attention to the trauma she says the teen has endured. “You’re talking about a young man who has been for many weeks out of contact and facing extradition. And for those that don’t know, that is a terrifying experience,” she said.
Prosecutors say they’ll take his vulnerable age into consideration, but neither party would say if mental illness played a part.
“For every defendant, we always look at them as a whole person, and if there’s a mental health concern or mental health issue then we want to get that addressed,” Gozzi said.
Cherkasov is scheduled to appear in court next Wednesday for a weight of evidence hearing.
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