Attempted murder charge involves bogus bear report

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.

Twenty-eight-year-old Lucas Gingras told police he urged his girlfriend to jump off a 70-foot cliff in Milton while they were under the influence of ecstasy because he believed a bear was trying to get into their cabin. But police say Gingras actually kicked 44-year-old Ladonna Merriman over the edge.

Police also say he had spiked 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 set the fire himself.

Chittenden County state's attorney T.J. Donovan tells WCAX-TV ( Gingras concocted the stories to cover up his plans to kill Merriman.

Gingras pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Merriman remains hospitalized.

©2016 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.