Five more face manslaughter charge in girl’s death

AUSTERLITZ—Heidi Tranberg-Bennett, 47, and Steven Bennett, 58, both of Austerlitz, were each charged with second degree manslaughter November 2 in connection with the negligent death of their 12-year-old daughter, Evanna.

Now five more people each face the same charge in connection with the girl’s death, according to a December 1 press release from Sheriff David P. Bartlett.

Cesar Ryan Torres, 33; Venuska Tranberg-Bennett, 26; Svenia Tranberg-Bennett, 19; Tevania Tranberg-Bennett, 23; and Petrevena Tranberg-Bennett, 21, all from Austerlitz and all relatives of the victim, were charged with second degree manslaughter, a class C felony, December 1 and were arraigned before County Court Judge Richard Koweek. The charges stem from follow-up in the investigation into the 12-year-old’s death.

Emergency medical personnel and Sheriff’s deputies were called to the Tranberg-Bennett residence for a 12-year-old girl in cardiac arrest, December 3, 2019 at 5:28 p.m.

Working collectively on the case are the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, State Police, the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, the Columbia County Department of Social Services Child Protective Unit, the Dutchess County Child Advocacy Center, Ellis Hospital and the Chatham Rescue Squad.

Both Heidi Tranberg-Bennett and Steven Bennett appeared before Judge Koweek November 2 for arraignment on the manslaughter charges and were released on their own recognizance.

The couple was ordered by the court to personally appear at Columbia County Probation on two set days a week for monitoring.

All five additional defendants were released on their own recognizance to return to County Court at a date to be later determined.

I am grateful to all who spent countless hours working on this case, and to those who will continue to work hard until this matter is resolved. This was a true team effort by all persons and agencies involved,” Sheriff Bartlett said in the release.

Members of my office continue to work diligently on this case with the District Attorney’s Office and New York State Police, to ensure that this case is handled properly.”


Bradley D. Briggs, 30, of Kinderhook was charged with fourth degree criminal mischief, endangering the welfare of a child, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration, all class A misdemeanors; driving while intoxicated, an unclassified misdemeanor; and third degree criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, by State Police from Kinderhook, November 28.

At about 9 p.m., troopers responded to Parker Hall Road in the Niverville area for a physical domestic dispute. The suspect, Mr. Briggs, fled on an all-terrain vehicle prior to the arrival of troopers. He was located on the CSX railroad tracks behind the residence. Troopers patrolled to possible exit locations for the suspect and located him on the Concourse near Lake Road. Troopers on foot ordered Mr. Briggs to stop , but he continued to flee and subsequently struck a tree. He was taken into custody after a brief struggle, according to police.

Mr. Briggs was issued tickets to appear in Kinderhook Town Court January 5. He was taken to Albany Medical Center for evaluation.


State Police arrested a Troy man and Connecticut woman on Interstate 90 following a pursuit, December 2. The traffic stop in the eastbound lanes of the Berkshire Spur was photographed from Frisbee Street in Canaan. At least a dozen marked trooper cars were on the scene. Photo by R.E. Lindmark

William L. Tisdol, 46 of Troy and Taraya S. Tisdol, 27, of Connecticut were arrested after a pursuit that started on Interstate 90 in Schodack and ended in Canaan. Troopers had stopped the pair’s vehicle, December 2 at 1:15 p.m. When speaking to the vehicle occupants, the trooper observed signs of drug use. The trooper searched the driver (William) and passenger (Taraya) and then began searching the vehicle.

When the trooper attempted to further search the vehicle, a brief struggle with Mr. Tisdol occurred during which he allegedly grabbed the trooper.

Both Tisdols were able to flee the scene in the vehicle, with Mr. Tisdol driving. The pursuit traveled on Interstate 90 to the Berkshire Spur in both directions several times, police said in a press release.

Troopers from Troops G, T and K pursued the vehicle and successfully deployed spike strips. An unidentified truck driver helped end the pursuit by slowing down the vehicle. No one was injured during the pursuit. Both Tisdols were taken into custody on the Berkshire Spur just after the B2 exit.

After completing the search, troopers found two loaded firearms that neither party could legally possess and one of which was stolen from Connecticut.

They further found more than two ounces of marijuana, a digital scale, concentrated cannabis and edible marijuana.

Mr. Tisdol and Ms. Tisdol were both charged with two counts second degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class C felony; fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property, a class E felony; and second degree criminal use of drug paraphernalia, two counts of seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and two counts of unlawful possession of an ammunition feeding device, all misdemeanors.

Mr. Tisdol was additionally charged with third degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, obstructing governmental administration, second degree reckless endangerment and fourth degree criminal possession of marijuana, all misdemeanors.

Both were arraigned in Schodack Court. Mr. Tisdol was sent to the Rensselaer County Jail without bail. Ms. Tisdol was sent to the same jail in lieu of $7,500 cash bail or bond.

Drugs /alcohol

The following face drug and/or alcohol-related charges:

*Benjamin J. Damgaard, 44, of Hillsdale was charged with driving while intoxicated, a class U misdemeanor, November 17 at 8:17 p.m. Mr. Damgaard was stopped on State Route 23 in Hillsdale for a traffic violation and found to be allegedly intoxicated by Deputies Michael Pozzi and Phillipp Gomm. He was issued traffic tickets returnable in Hillsdale Court December 16 to answer the charges.

*Jacob J. Whiteman, 39, of Chatham was charged with drunk driving following a motor vehicle accident in Kinderhook, November 17 at 5:28 p.m.

Deputy Sheriff Brian McSween was dispatched to the one car personal injury auto accident on County Route 32 at 4:10 p.m. that day. On arrival, Deputy McSween learned that the sole occupant of the vehicle, Mr. Whiteman had driven off of the road and struck a tree. The Valatie Rescue Squad took Mr. Whiteman to the Albany Medical Center for treatment of hip, pelvis, abdomen and back pain. During the accident investigation Deputy McSween determined that Mr. Whiteman was allegedly under the influence of alcohol leading up to the accident. He was charged at the hospital and directed to turn himself in at the Sheriff’s Office upon his release from the hospital, which he did November 20. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, first offense, a class U misdemeanor and failure to keep right, a traffic infraction. He was arraigned in Kinderhook Town Court before Justice Lisa Mills and was released on his own recognizance to return at a later date. Deputies Phillipp Gomm and Micheal Pozzi, Trooper Christopher Link, the Niverville Fire Company and the Valatie Rescue Squad assisted at the scene.

*Rocco Demarest, 25, of Stuyvesant and Connor R. Hallock, 26, of Albany were charged with second degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class D felony, by Deputies Matthew Leonard and Daniel Keyser, November 27 at 8:34 p.m.

Mr. Hallock was initially stopped for speeding in Germantown and allegedly gave a false name to Deputy Leonard. After the deputy ascertained Mr. Hallock’s true identity, it was discovered that he had a suspended license and was wanted on an active warrant out of the City of Hudson. The passenger in the vehicle, Mr. Demarest, also had a suspended licensed and was also found to be wanted on an active Hudson warrant. After both subjects were taken into custody, a back pack containing 1.67 pounds of marijuana was located in the vehicle. In addition to the marijuana charge, Mr. Hallock was also charged with: speed in zone, a traffic infraction; false personation, class B misdemeanor; obstructing governmental administration, class A misdemeanor; and second degree aggravated unlicensed operator, class U misdemeanor.

Both subjects were issued appearance tickets returnable in Germantown Court at a later date and were turned over to Hudson City Police on their active warrants.

To contact Diane Valden email

Troopers report weekend tickets issued

LIVINGSTON—State Police in Troop K issued 1,428 vehicle and traffic law violation tickets during the Thanksgiving 2020 holiday weekend from 5 p.m. Wednesday, November 25 through 3 a.m. Monday, November 30. Troopers issued tickets for 767 speeding violations, 26 distracted driving violations, 18 child restraint violations, 41 move-over violations, and removed 28 impaired motorists from the roadway.

*State Police in Troop K issued 747 vehicle and traffic law violation tickets during the November 21 weekend from 5 p.m. Friday, November 20 through 3 a.m. Monday, November 23. Troopers issued tickets for 365 speeding violations, 27 distracted driving violations, 3 child restraint violations, 8 move over violations, and removed 20 impaired motorists from the roadway.

*State Police in Troop K issued 829 vehicle and traffic law violation tickets during the November 14 weekend from 5 p.m. Friday, November 13 through 3 a.m. Monday, November 16. Troopers issued tickets for 418 speeding violations, 28 distracted driving violations, 4 child restraint violations, 15 move over violations, and removed 19 impaired motorists from the roadway. Troop K includes Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia counties.

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