Argued: December 15, 2016
Wille, Esq. (orally), DeGrinney Law Offices, Portland, for
appellant Karl Maine
Kathryn Loftus Slattery, District Attorney, Anne Marie Pazar,
Asst. Dist. Atty., and Justina A. McGettigan, Asst. Dist.
Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District #1, Alfred, for
appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, TABAR. and HJELM,
Karl Maine appeals from a judgment entered by the Superior
Court (York County, O'Neil, J.) following a jury
verdict convicting him of one count of arson (Class A), 17-A
M.R.S. § 802(1)(A) (2016). Maine argues on appeal that
the trial court erred by admitting expert testimony
concerning the cause of a fire that largely destroyed a diner
run by Maine and by allowing an acquaintance of Maine to
testify to statements made to Maine about how to start house
fires, and that the evidence presented at trial was
insufficient to support a guilty verdict. We affirm.
The jury could rationally have found the following facts
beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Troy, 2014 ME 9,
¶ 3, 86 A.3d 591. In January 2013, Maine began leasing
and operating Jake's Diner ("the diner") on
Ossipee Trail in Limington. Aaron Sleeper owned the building
housing the diner as well as a commercial building containing
a grocery store-Sleeper's Supermarket ("the
market")-located across a parking lot from the diner.
Maine had a month-to-month lease and was therefore free to
exit the lease at any time. He purchased groceries for the
diner from the market, and included payment for the groceries
in his monthly rent check. In January 2014, Maine was behind
on rent by one month and owed Sleeper $541 for groceries.
Maine also owed money to several utilities, including more
than $1, 000 for propane deliveries and more than $900 for
In addition to operating the diner, Maine held a job as a
subcontractor for Lock & Load Property Services, a
foreclosed property management company run by Catherine Ford.
Ford knew that Maine was having financial troubles and she
had paid his cell phone bill in December 2013 and January
2014. She had also personally purchased groceries for the
diner when Maine was unable to do so. At some point before
January 2014, Maine told Ford that he was "sick" of
running the diner and was thinking about closing it down for
the winter. Maine also told William Shaw, who owned an
auction and yard sale business across the street from the
diner, that business at the diner was slow and that he owed a
lot of money to the market.
On the morning of February 12, 2014, per his usual routine,
Maine arrived at the diner before 7:00 a.m. to do prep work
for the day. His employees, a waitress and a cook, arrived to
begin work at 7:00 a.m. Maine left at approximately 8:00 a.m.
to work for Ford, who would meet him there in the morning
before his shifts for Lock & Load. Maine and another
subcontractor for Lock & Load left their vehicles in the
diner parking lot for the day while they worked on a
foreclosed property in New Hampshire. The waitress and the
cook ran the diner, closing up at 2:00 p.m. Before leaving,
they locked all the doors.
A security camera at the market that was pointed toward the
diner captured Maine, Ford, and Ford's other
subcontractor returning just before 5:00 p.m. Video from that
camera shows Maine approaching the front door of the diner at
4:55 p.m., disappearing from view, and reappearing from the
area of the front door approximately six minutes later. Maine
then went to his truck-parked near the front of the diner-and
returned to the entrance of the diner at 5:02 p.m.,
disappeared from view, reappeared from the front door area at
approximately 5:03 p.m., and finally got into his truck and
drove away. The video then depicts smoke emanating from the
rear of the diner at approximately 5:05 p.m.
One of Sleeper's employees at the market noticed the
smoke and alerted Sleeper, who called 9-1-1. Two engines from
the fire department arrived at 5:13 p.m., and firefighters
extinguished the blaze with water after breaking in the front
door. Maine arrived about half an hour later and provided a
statement to the Limington fire chief, who then called the
Fire Marshal's Office to request an investigation into
the cause of the fire.
Senior Investigator Mark Roberts of the Maine State Fire
Marshal's Office responded to the scene of the fire at
approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening. He interviewed Maine,
who told Roberts that he had entered the diner only once
after returning from New Hampshire, to collect receipts, and
that he had been inside for less than one minute.
The next day, Roberts accompanied Senior Investigator Daniel
Young, who was responsible for determining the origin and
cause of the fire, to the scene. They both examined the
diner, and Young took photos of the damage. Maine also
returned to the scene, and again advised the ...