Argued: April 13, 2017
Stephen C. Smith, Esq., and Caleb J. Gannon, Esq. (orally),
Lipman & Katz, PA, Augusta, for appellant Justin
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Donald W. Macomber, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Justin G. Pillsbury appeals from a judgment of conviction for
one count of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference
murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 2Ol(1)(A) and (B) (2016), entered
by the trial court (Kennebec County, Murphy, J.)
following a four-day jury trial. On appeal, Pillsbury argues
that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his
motion for a new trial. Specifically, he argues that the
trial court clearly erred when it found (1) no prosecutorial
misconduct and (2) that evidence of prior bad acts was
properly admitted. We affirm the judgment.
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.
Morrison, 2016 ME 47, ¶ 2, 135 A.3d 343. The
forty-one-year-old defendant, Justin G. Pillsbury, and the
twenty-four-year-old victim were dating in the fall of 2013,
and had been dating on and off for over two years. In
November 2013, Pillsbury was living with a friend in an
apartment on Crosby Street in Augusta.
On the evening of November 13, 2013, Pillsbury and the victim
were drinking in the Crosby Street apartment. While the two
were alone, the victim was texting on her phone, and
Pillsbury became jealous and began asking to see the phone.
The victim refused to turn over her phone, and Pillsbury, who
was a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier, physically took it
from her. The phone had a pattern lock on it, and Pillsbury
was unable to unlock the phone, which angered him.
In a recorded interview with police detectives following the
homicide, Pillsbury stated that the victim grabbed a knife
from a butcher's block on the kitchen counter, pointed it
at Pillsbury, and demanded her phone back. Pillsbury stated
that he attempted to take the knife from the victim and cut
his finger in the process. He was ultimately successful in
taking the knife from the victim and began stabbing her with
it. The victim retreated into the bathroom. Pillsbury
followed her into the bathroom where he continued to stab the
her in the neck and back.
Realizing what he had done, Pillsbury then took another knife
from the butcher block and began stabbing himself in the neck
and slashing at his arms. Pillsbury's friend-with whom he
had been staying-returned home at some point between 7:30 and
7:45 p.m. and noticed blood on the floor of his apartment.
When he asked Pillsbury what happened, Pillsbury stated that
the victim was talking to another man on her phone, he
blacked out and killed her, and now he was trying to kill
himself. The friend went to a neighbor's apartment where
the friend and the neighbor each called the police.
Paramedics arrived and transported Pillsbury to an Augusta
hospital. During transport, Pillsbury requested that the
paramedics let him die because he had killed his girlfriend
and was trying to kill himself. An autopsy of the victim
revealed twelve stab wounds to her back, head, eye, hand, and
neck. These stab wounds were determined to have caused the
Two days after Pillsbury was taken to the hospital, he was
interviewed by detectives from the Maine State
Police. The detectives read Pillsbury the
Miranda warnings, and he agreed to answer questions.
During his discussion with police, Pillsbury admitted that he
stabbed the victim to death because of his insecurities, that
he had caused all of the injuries to the ...