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State v. Fletcher

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

August 18, 2015

STATE OF MAINE
v.
STANLEY FLETCHER

Submitted on Briefs June 2, 2015.

On the briefs: Jeffrey C. Toothaker, Esq., Ellsworth, for appellant Stanley Fletcher.

Matthew Foster, District Attorney, and Ethan Plaut, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District VII, Machias, for appellee State of Maine.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.

OPINION

Page 967

JABAR, J.

[¶1] Stanley Fletcher appeals from a judgment of conviction of domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2014), and assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207(1)(A) (2014), entered by the trial court ( Romei, J. ) after a jury-waived trial. Fletcher argues that the court erred in finding that the State presented sufficient evidence to disprove his self-defense justification beyond a reasonable doubt. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Page 968

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] In May 2014, Fletcher was charged with one count of domestic violence assault and one count of assault following an altercation with his ex-girlfriend, Anna Jean, and his stepdaughter, Michelle. During his trial, Fletcher claimed that he had acted in self-defense.

[¶3] Before the altercation that gave rise to the assault charges, Fletcher and Anna Jean were in a romantic relationship, which ended one or two weeks prior to the incident. On the date of the incident, Anna Jean was staying with her friend Michelle. Fletcher was formerly married to Michelle's mother.

[¶4] Around 10:00 p.m. on December 13, 2013, Michelle and Anna Jean went to a bar in Lubec, where each consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages. Fletcher arrived at the bar shortly thereafter and became intoxicated. Michelle and Anna Jean saw Fletcher and he saw them, but neither woman spoke with him. The women left the bar around midnight, and Michelle drove the two back to her residence. After " last call," a woman named Lydia offered to drive Fletcher's truck to bring him and several others to their homes. Fletcher agreed and climbed into the front passenger seat. Lydia drove Fletcher's truck to Michelle's house to drop off Michelle's next-door neighbor, who had also been drinking at the bar.

[¶5] Michelle, who did not get along with Fletcher, saw Fletcher's truck pull into her driveway, opened her front door, and yelled at Fletcher to leave. The truck remained in the driveway with its engine running, the front passenger door closed, and the front passenger window open. Michelle approached the truck's passenger side, angrily yelling at Fletcher through his open window. There was conflicting testimony at trial as to exactly what happened next.

[¶6] Michelle's testimony supports the following sequence of events: Fletcher raised his hand as if he was going to strike her, and she swung at him once through the open window. Fletcher then kicked Michelle in the face and she lost consciousness and fell backward, suffering a chipped tooth and a bruised nose. At trial, Michelle was initially unable to remember whether Fletcher had opened the door to kick her or had put his foot through the open window. She later admitted that the door had been opened, but she did not know by whom. According to Anna Jean's testimony, the row continued to unfold as follows: After Michelle fell, Anna Jean approached the truck screaming obscenities and " begging" Fletcher to leave. When Anna Jean reached the truck, Fletcher punched her once in the face, breaking her nose ...


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