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State v. True

Supreme Court of Maine

January 5, 2017


          Argued: September 13, 2016

          James P. Howaniec, Esq. (orally), Lewiston, for appellant William True.

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, Donald W. Macomber, Asst. Atty. Gen., and John Alsop, Asst. Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine.


          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] Twenty-year-old Romeo Parent was killed in April 2013. He had been stabbed in the back of the neck, beaten, and choked. William True was charged with, and found guilty by a jury of, the intentional or knowing, or depraved indifference murder of Parent.[1] True appeals from the judgment of conviction entered by the court (MG Kennedy, J.). See 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A), (B) (2015). He argues that the judgment should be vacated because he was deprived of a fair trial due to allegedly perjured testimony from certain of the States witnesses. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could rationally have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Westgate, 2016 ME 145, ¶ 5, ___ A.3d ___. During the weekend of April 6 and 7, 2013, True was in jail after Parent informed the police that the two of them had committed a robbery. On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at about 7:40 p.m., Nathan Morton[2] and Michael McNaughton, [3] who were known to both Parent and True, picked Parent up in a pharmacy parking lot in Auburn in Mortons vehicle. McNaughton had planned to kill Parent for being a "snitch." Morton, the driver, then drove to the home of Trues friend Eric Leighton on James Street in Auburn and picked up True, who had been released from jail.[4]

         [¶3] Morton drove to a secluded location on South Mountain Road in Greene. True and McNaughton exited the car with Parent, and the three went into the woods while Morton, who is disabled, waited in the car. Once in the woods, McNaughton stabbed Parent in the back of the neck with a screwdriver and used a brake cable to choke him repeatedly while True punched and kicked Parent. Although Parent bled only a little from the stabbing, a small amount of his blood got on the leg of Trues jeans. True injured his foot, and it bled. Parent died due to the constriction of blood vessels in his neck.

         [¶4] Morton drove away with True and McNaughton at about 9:20 p.m. He dropped True off near his friend Theodore Gagnons house. During the next morning, April 10, True returned to Leightons residence in Auburn looking for a duffel bag. He obtained large garbage bags from Leighton. True left Leightons apartment and got in the car with Morton and McNaughton, after which Morton drove to pick up bedsheets from another friend. The three went to Mortons residence, where they waited until dark and then went to Greene to move Parents body.

         [¶5] When they arrived in Greene, True and McNaughton cut the shirt and pants off Parents body, bound Parents hands and feet with strips of sheet fabric, wrapped Parents body in garbage bags, and placed his body on a sheet in Mortons trunk. Morton drove to Jug Stream in Monmouth, where True and McNaughton threw Parents body into the water from above a dam. They later threw the sheet out the window of the car.

         [¶6] Morton dropped True off near Leightons home. Leighton called the police when True attempted to get into his house. True was arrested by police at 12:24 a.m. because he was violating a curfew imposed as a condition of bail. Police investigators found Parents body in Jug Stream on Friday, April 12, 2013.

         [¶7] In July 2014, True was charged by indictment with intentional or knowing, or depraved indifference murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A), (B); conspiracy to commit intentional murder (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 151(1)(A) (2015); and hindering apprehension or prosecution (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §753(1-B)(C)(1)(2015).

         [¶8] An eleven-day jury trial was held from December 3 through 17, 2014. The State presented testimony from multiple members of state and local law enforcement; an employee of a youth outreach center frequented by Parent and True; the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy of Parents body; the Maine State Crime Lab personnel who examined the physical evidence; Morton; Leighton; Gagnon; and many friends of True, McNaughton, and Parent who socialized and used drugs with the three of them around the time of the murder. Many of the friend witnesses, including Morton, Leighton, and Gagnon, whose testimony True now challenges as ...

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