32ºF

Man charged in Caribbean hotel worker's death skips hearing

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2019 file photo, Scott Hapgood, right, a U.S. financial adviser charged with killing a hotel worker while on vacation in Anguilla, and his lawyer Juliya Arbisman, left, hold a media conference in New York. Hapgood declined to return to the British Caribbean territory for the latest pretrial hearing on Monday, Nov. 11, and Anguilla officials rejected an offer that he appear by video link for the hearing. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DARIEN, CT – A Connecticut man charged in the death of a hotel worker he says attacked his family in Anguilla has declined to return to the British Caribbean territory for the latest pretrial hearing, a spokesman said Monday.

Scott Hapgood, of Darien, is worried about his safety in light of death threats, and Anguilla officials have not provided assurances that he would be allowed to return home on bond after the hearing, family spokesman Jamie Diaferia said.

Anguilla officials rejected an offer for Hapgood to appear by video link for Monday's hearing, Diaferia said.

Hapgood and his family say a hotel worker, Kenny Mitchel, of Dominica, showed up at their room unannounced during their April vacation and demanded money, then attacked them. After the struggle, Mitchel died, and Hapgood was charged with manslaughter.

An autopsy report showed Mitchel died of positional asphyxia and received blunt force injuries to his torso and other areas. Diaferia said that a toxicology report was suppressed and that Mitchel was found to have drugs, including cocaine, in his system.

Hapgood appeared at previous hearings and had been released on $74,000 bond.

The case has sparked racial tensions on an island that caters to wealthy tourists.

"We understand there will be people in Anguilla who say Scott is running from a trial. That is 100 percent false," said Juliya Arbisman, an attorney for Hapgood.

At a rally last month in Darien, supporters including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on Anguilla officials to provide assurances that Hapgood would be kept safe and allowed to remain free on bond.

President Donald Trump also tweeted last month he would "be looking into" the case. Hapgood's wife had appeared on "Fox & Friends" and urged Trump to intervene.