Submitted On Briefs: February 20, 2019
D. Jandreau, Esq., Fort Kent, for appellant Bruce Ouellette
Mitchell, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District No. 8,
Caribou, for appellee State of Maine
ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Bruce Ouellette appeals from a judgment of conviction for
aggravated criminal mischief (Class C), 17-AM.R.S. §
805(1)(A) (2018), entered by the trial court (Aroostook
County, Stewart, J.) following a two-day jury trial.
The State purports to cross-appeal from the denial of its
motion to correct the sentence because the court did not
order restitution pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. §§
1323(2), 1325 (2018). M.R.U. Crim. P. 35(a), (g). We affirm
the judgment of conviction and do not reach the State's
challenge to the denial of its motion to correct the sentence
because the State failed to file a notice of appeal from that
order and failed to provide the written authorization of the
Attorney General. 15 M.R.S. § 2115-A(2-B), (5) (2018);
M.R. App. P. 2A(f)(2), 21(a)-(c).
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
verdict, the jury rationally could have found the following
facts beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Perkins,
2019 ME 6, ¶ 3, 199 A. 3d 1174.
In October 2016, the Town of Frenchville began preparing a
rural section of Pelletier Avenue to be paved. The Town
graded the existing gravel roadway, laid geotextile fabric on
the graded surface, and then applied a base layer of gravel
(larger stone) and a surface layer of gravel (smaller stone).
The next step would have been the installation of an asphalt
On October 31, 2016, Ouellette drove a tractor along a
section of Pelletier Avenue using a harrow that tore the
geotextile fabric and mixed the two sizes of gravel together
with dirt, rendering that section of Pelletier Avenue
unsuitable for paving. The cost to repair the damage was
estimated to be approximately $52, 000.
Ouellette was charged by indictment with aggravated criminal
mischief,  pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 805(1)(A),
which provides that "[a] person is guilty of aggravated
criminal mischief if that person... [i]ntentionally,
knowingly or recklessly damages or destroys property of
another in an amount exceeding $2, 000 in value, having no
reasonable ground to believe that the person has a right to
Prior to trial, the court granted Ouellette's motion in
limine to exclude any lay witness testimony about the
"title or ownership" of Pelletier
Avenue. During the trial, the jury heard testimony
that Ouellette did not own any land along the stretch of
Pelletier Avenue that he damaged, that Pelletier Avenue was
posted with traffic control and road signage, and that the
road was maintained, graded, and plowed by the Town. Further,
in accordance with the parties' stipulation, the court
instructed the jury that "the property allegedly damaged
was the geotextile fabric, base gravel, and surface gravel
applied by the Town... upon Pelletier Avenue." The jury
found Ouellette guilty of aggravated criminal mischief.
After the jury's verdict, Ouellette filed a motion for a
judgment of acquittal and argued-for the first time-that the
geotextile fabric and gravel had become "fixtures"
of the real property of Pelletier Avenue and, because the
State did not establish who owned Pelletier Avenue, the State
failed to prove that Ouellette damaged the "property of
another" within the meaning of 17-A M.R.S. § 805.
The court denied the motion, concluding that the parties'
stipulation "sufficiently defined" for the jury
that the damaged property was the geotextile fabric and
gravel; that it was "appropriate for the jury to
conclude" that ownership of the road was still in
dispute; and that the jury could have concluded that,
regardless of who owned the road, the damaged property-the
geotextile fabric and gravel, as defined by the parties'
stipulation-did not belong to Ouellette.
The court sentenced Ouellette to one year in jail with all
but ten days suspended, a year of probation, and a $3, 000
fine. The court declined to order Ouellette to pay
restitution, stating on the record that its decision was
based on the need to end the contentious litigation
surrounding the paving of Pelletier Avenue and that the
Town's decision to accept a deed of property from
Ouellette in lieu of formal restitution constituted a
"bargain[ed] for exchange" that sufficiently
compensated the Town. Because the Town voluntarily declined
restitution, the State sought restitution on behalf of
Aroostook County pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 1324(2)
(2018). The court denied the State's request. The State
filed a motion to correct the sentence ...