Argued: March 3, 2017
Heather Nadeau, Esq. (orally), The Law Office of Tina Heather
Nadeau, PLLC, Portland, for appellant Roland L. Cummings
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
Aurele Fecteau, a ninety-two-year-old retiree living alone in
his own home in Waterville, was stabbed to death in his bed
during a burglary. Roland L. Cummings was found guilty by a
jury of the murder, along with two other crimes. Cummings
appeals only from the judgment of conviction of murder
entered by the court (Kennebec County, Murphy, J.)
after a trial in which the State presented the murder charge
on alternative theories- intentional or knowing murder and
depraved indifference murder. Cummings argues that the
evidence was insufficient to support the finding that he was
the person who committed the murder, and in the alternative,
he argues that, due to the evidence of sixteen stab wounds to
Fecteau's torso, the killing was so certainly a knowing
or intentional murder that the jury should not have been
instructed on depraved indifference murder. Thus, he contends
that the court erred in allowing the State to proceed on
alternative theories. We affirm the judgment.
Cummings appeals from the judgment of conviction of murder,
17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A), (B) (2016). He does not
challenge his additional convictions of burglary of a
dwelling (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 4Ol(1)(A), (B)(4)
(2016), and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer (Class
C), 17-A M.R.S. §353(1)(A), (B)(6) (2016).
When the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to
the State, the jury could rationally have found the following
facts beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to the murder
conviction. See State v. Maine, 2017 ME 25');">2017 ME 25,
¶¶ 2, 28, 155 A.3d 871. On May 21, 2014, Cummings
forced his way into Fecteau's home. Cummings knew
Fecteau, who was the father of one of his friends. Cummings
stabbed Fecteau sixteen times in the torso, causing his
death; took money and jewelry; and fled. That night, Cummings
sold two pieces of the stolen jewelry and used a $100 bill
stolen from Fecteau to purchase drugs. He also paid a debt to
an acquaintance for drugs using half-dollar coins stolen from
[¶4] One of Fecteau's sons, after unsuccessfully
trying to reach his father by phone on May 22 and 23, went to
his father's house on May 23. He discovered his
father's body, and the police began an investigation.
In June 2014, Cummings was charged by complaint with a single
count of murder alleging intentional or knowing murder or
depraved indifference murder. See 17-A M.R.S. §
201(1)(A), (B). Later that month, he was charged by
indictment with murder, id.; burglary of a dwelling
(Class B), id. §401(1)(A), (B)(4); burglary
(Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §401(1)(A), (B)(2) (2016); and
theft (Class C), id. § 353(1)(A), (B)(6).
The court held a six-day jury trial from November 12 to 19,
2015. The State's case included testimony from a Maine
Crime Lab DNA analyst, who found Cummings's DNA on the
out-turned pockets of Fecteau's pants and on one of the
rings stolen from Fecteau. After the State presented its
case, Cummings unsuccessfully moved for a judgment of
acquittal on all counts. See M.R.U. Crim. P. 29(a).
Cummings presented additional evidence but did not testify.
With the State's consent, the court acquitted Cummings of
the second burglary count.
Before the court instructed the jury, Cummings objected to
the proposed jury instructions on murder, arguing that the
evidence could not support a finding of depraved
indifference, and he again moved for a judgment of acquittal.
The court overruled the objection and denied the motion.
The State and Cummings offered closing arguments, after which
the court delivered instructions to the jury orally and in
writing. With respect to the murder charge, the court
instructed on the alternative theories ...