Attempted murder charge involves bogus bear report; Man pleads not guilty

MILTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and arson after a drug-fueled incident that included a bear attack that never happened.

Police say 28-year-old Lucas Gingras told his girlfriend to jump off a 70-foot cliff in Milton after they both took ecstasy and he believed a bear was trying to get into their cabin. Police say Gingras had spiked 44-year-old Ladonna Merriman's drink without her knowledge.

Authorities say Gingras initially claimed a bear had attacked them and a camp stove got knocked over, setting the cabin on fire. But investigators say Gingras later said he thought he heard something — possibly a bear — trying to get into the cabin and set it on fire.

Gingras pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Merriman remains hospitalized.

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