Plea deal offered to New Milford home invasion suspect
NEW MILFORD — Prosecutors have offered a plea deal to Michael Saunders, who was accused of assaulting his elderly neighbors in their home last summer.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Dawn Gallo declined to comment on the nature of the deal Tuesday, but victims in the case said they are relieved that some time in prison appears to be part of the negotiations.
Police said Saunders, 34, broke through his neighbors’ back door before attacking several of the occupants, who are all in their 60s, with a bat.
He was arrested in June, shortly after the attack, and faces a number of felony charges, including home invasion, second-degree assault and first-degree burglary.
“People need to be aware that this can happen to anybody,” said JoAnne Finkle, who was watching the evening news with her family when they heard Saunders in the backyard. “He tried to kill my sister and brother in front of me. It was a wonderful spring evening and he just came at us.”
Saunders charged into the Finkle home last June yelling about being pursued, said police, noting that he was likely hallucinating. 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.
By the time police arrived, “blood was all over the kitchen like a pig was slaughtered,” JoAnne said.
She added that her sister Bee, a 61-year-old woman who weighs less than 100 pounds, is still suffering from a concussion she received when Saunders attacked the family.
“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. “He doesn’t need to be out and about the way he is right now.”
Finkle said the family continued to live in fear this fall when Saunders was released on $150,000 bond and returned to the neighborhood. Saunders, however, was arrested again in December on a disorderly conduct charge and was held in custody when his bond was increased to $200,000.
That was a relief to the Finkle family, who said a relative of Saunders recently sold the home. JoAnne Finkle said he now has no reason to be in the neighborhood.
Saunders is expected to return to state Superior Court in Torrington on April 24. He is expected to either accept or reject the plea deal at that time.