Argued: March 2, 2017
S. Manthorne, Esq. (orally), Roach, Hewitt, Ruprecht, Sanchez
& Bischoff, Portland, for appellant Lee Perry
Kathryn Loftus Slattery, District Attorney, and Shira S.
Burns, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District #1,
Alfred, for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Lee Perry appeals from a judgment of conviction entered by
the trial court (York County, Douglas, J.) after a
jury found him guilty of three counts of aggravated assault
(Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1) (2016); two counts of
domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. 207-A(1)(A)
(2016); and one count each of domestic violence criminal
threatening with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S.
209-A(1)(A) (2016), and domestic violence reckless conduct
with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. §
211-A(1)(A) (2016). He also challenges the consecutive
sentences imposed for two of the convictions. We affirm the
judgment and sentences.
Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the State,
the jury rationally could have found the following facts
beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Hurd, 2010
ME 118, ¶ 4, 8 A.3d 651. At the time of the events in
question, the victim and the defendant, Lee Perry, were
sexual partners residing together at an apartment in North
Berwick. On the afternoon of December 5, 2014, the victim and
Perry engaged in a verbal altercation after the victim
accused Perry of taking money and prescription medications
from her purse. At some point during the altercation, the
victim attempted to walk away from Perry and, when she turned
her back to do so, Perry shoved her to the ground, causing
the victim to injure her wrist when she extended her arm to
break her fall.
Shortly after the shoving incident, Perry went into the
bedroom to take a nap. When Perry awoke, the altercation
reignited, and Perry grabbed the victim and threw her to the
ground. While the victim was face down on the apartment
floor, Perry grabbed her around her neck and began tightening
his grip, inhibiting her ability to breathe. Perry continued
applying pressure to the victims neck until she lost control
of her bowels and bladder. Perry eventually stopped, and the
victim pulled herself off the ground and went into the
bathroom to take a shower and change her clothes.
While the victim was in the shower, Perry broke the lock on
the bathroom door, grabbed the victim by her hair, and
slammed her head against the bathroom wall and the toilet
basin. Perry then proceeded to pull the victim out of the
bathroom on her hands and knees. While the victim was on the
floor, Perry grabbed a knife and threatened to kill her,
remarking that "12 to 14 [years in prison] dont look too
bad about now." To defend herself, the victim raised her
hand to deflect the blade and suffered lacerations on her
The victim eventually left the apartment she shared with
Perry and went upstairs to a friends apartment. Initially,
the victim did not want to contact the authorities; only
after she saw the extent of her injuries in the mirror did
she decide to place a call to a friend and ask that the
friend call the police.
In the early morning hours of December 6, 2014, an officer
from the North Berwick Police Department received a call
reporting a domestic disturbance. Accordingly, he responded
to the victims apartment and was joined shortly thereafter by
another officer. When the officer arrived, he was greeted by
the victim, who bore visible injuries. The victim informed
him that she and Perry had been involved in an altercation
and that Perry had physically assaulted her. Based on this
conversation and in accordance with "standard police
protocol" the officer then went to speak with Perry.
While the other officer remained outside, the victim led the
first officer into the apartment and the room in which Perry
was sleeping. The first officer woke Perry by announcing his
presence as a police officer. The first officer proceeded to
ask Perry a series of questions about what had transpired
earlier that evening and if he had been drinking. Perry
admitted that he and the victim had argued earlier but denied
hurting her or knowing how she received her injuries. Perry
also admitted that he drank four or five beers that evening.
At no time during this exchange was Perry advised of his
Miranda rights. After hearing Perrys responses, the
first officer left Perry in the bedroom and reunited with the
other responding officer outside of the apartment. At that
time, the first officer expressed to the other officer his
intent to arrest Perry. The first officer then re-entered the
apartment and placed Perry under arrest.
On March 2, 2015, the State filed a seven-count indictment
against Perry. Three of the seven counts alleged aggravated
assault based on separate and distinct episodes of alleged
criminal conduct in violation of three distinct provisions of
the Criminal Code. Count I alleged aggravated assault in
violation of 17-AM.R.S. § 208(1)(A). Count II alleged
aggravated assault causing bodily injury under circumstances
manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(C). Count III alleged aggravated
assault causing bodily injury with a dangerous weapon.
A three-day jury trial on the indictment commenced on May 24,
2016. Prior to trial, Perry moved the court to suppress
statements he made to the first officer before his arrest.
After a hearing, the court (Douglas, J.) denied the
motion, concluding that Perry was not in custody for
Miranda purposes during the interview and therefore
the statements were admissible at trial.
At trial, the State elicited testimony from various
individuals describing the extent of the victims injuries,
which included a broken wrist requiring surgery and a
laceration on her right hand. In addition, the victim
testified to the symptoms and injuries she experienced during
and after Perry strangled her on the floor of the apartment,
namely incontinence, nausea, blurred vision, headache, and
neck pain. Over Perrys objection, the State also presented
the testimony of a strangulation expert who provided the
technical definition of "strangulation, "
specifically as it differs from the colloquial term
"choking, " and described the physiological effects
and symptoms of strangulation.
Relying upon the testimony summarized above, the State, in
both its opening statement and closing argument, explained to
the jury that Count I of the indictment, aggravated assault,
pertained to Perrys shoving of the victim that resulted in
her breaking her wrist; that Count II, aggravated assault
with extreme indifference to the value of human life,
pertained to Perrys strangulation of the victim; and that