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State v. Lacourse

Supreme Court of Maine

April 27, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
NATHAN J. LACOURSE

          Argued: December 15, 2016

          Jamesa J. Drake, Esq. (orally), Drake Law, LLC, Auburn, for appellant Nathan J. Lacourse

          Kathryn Loftus Slattery, District Attorney, and Thomas R. Miscio, Esq. (orally), Prosecutorial District #1, Alfred, for appellee State of Maine

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

          HUMPHREY, J.

         [¶1] Based on events occurring during his ten-year-long marriage to the victim, Nathan J. Lacourse was convicted after a jury trial of domestic violence assault, domestic violence stalking, and endangering the welfare of a child.

         [¶2] Lacourse now appeals from the judgment of conviction entered by the trial court (York County, O'Neil, J.) as to the charge of domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2016). We conclude that the trial record contains insufficient evidence for the jury to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the conduct forming the basis for that crime occurred within the applicable limitations period. We therefore must vacate the judgment of conviction and remand for entry of a judgment of acquittal on the domestic violence assault charge. We also remand for the court to determine whether resentencing is necessary as to the stalking and endangering the welfare of a child charges.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶3] Although, as noted above, Lacourse was also convicted of domestic violence stalking and endangering the welfare of a child, he challenges only the domestic violence assault conviction on appeal. We therefore do not discuss facts relevant only to his other convictions.

         [¶4] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury rationally could have found the following relevant facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Fay, 2015 ME 160, ¶ 2, 130 A.3d 364. At some point during Lacourses ten-year-long marriage with the victim, Lacourse hit the victim with a ruler on her lower back, causing her pain and leaving a welt.

         [¶5] On June 6, 2013, a York County grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging Lacourse, in Count VII, with domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A).[1] The portion of the indictment setting forth that charge stated:

On or about August 30, 2012, in Hollis, YORK County, Maine, NATHAN J LACOURSE, did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury or offensive physical contact to [the victim]. This conduct was committed against a family or household member as defined by 19-A M.R.S.A. §4002(4).

         As part of discovery, the State provided to Lacourse seventeen journals, or diaries, that the victim kept during the course of her relationship with Lacourse. One of the journals contained an entry dated "8/23/12"[2] stating that Lacourse struck the victim with a ruler "the other day." The same journal also contained an entry "written 8/29/12" describing an incident in which Lacourse squeezed the victims hand to the point of causing pain and would not let go.

         [¶6] Lacourse moved for a bill of particulars pursuant to M.R. Crim. P. 16(c)(1) (Tower 2012-2013), [3] arguing that the indictment was too vague for him to prepare his defense and asking the court to order the State to "confirm" that the domestic violence assault charge "corresponded] to" the incident described in the journal in which Lacourse ...


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