Courts and Crime

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's highest court has upheld the robbery conviction of a man who was stripped of his right to a court-appointed attorney because he couldn't get along with five previous lawyers.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Joshua Nisbet willfully waived his right to counsel through his behavior, which included threats. It also found that Nisbet's actions proved detrimental to justice, and that the judge had no lesser alternative.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A University of New England professor is suing the college, alleging officials took away some of her teaching duties and responsibilities after she accused her department chairman of sexual harassment.

The Portland Press Herald reports associate professor Lara Carlson is accusing the Biddeford-based private university of violating her civil rights under Title IX, a federal law.

BANGOR, Maine - An Aroostook County couple have been arrested for the second time in less than a year on charges related to the making of methamphetamine. 

"This latest lab was discovered when MDEA agents went to this cabin to check on the bail conditions of a young man who was arrested last year for making methamphetamine," says Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.

McCausland says the cabin in Ludlow contained components to make a new batch of meth. "Also inside was the young man, his girlfriend and her mother."

BANGOR, Maine  — A Maine judge has imposed a life prison sentence on a Bangor man who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-girlfriend in November 2013.

Zackery Mailloux asked the judge Wednesday to sentence him to life in prison and the judge obliged with the maximum penalty for murder in Maine. Justice Michaela Murphy described the details of the case as "chilling."

Bangor police found the body of 21-year-old Brooke Locke while responding to a complaint of domestic violence.

Somebody shot up some fiber-optic cable in Gorham early Monday morning, local police say. The apparent act of vandalism left an unknown number of Mainers at least temporarily without telephone and Internet service, and authorities are investigating.

The fiber-optic cable in question is owned by a company called Maine Comm, a subsidiary of Central Maine Power. CMP spokesman John Carroll says an investigation is underway.

“Our security team is working with local police in Gorham as well as state police and federal officials, the FBI, in an investigation of this,” he says.

PORTLAND, Maine  — A judge has denied bail for a Maine man charged with killing his wife, but indicated she may be open to revisiting bail as the case develops.

Justice Michaela Murphy opened the door to a bail hearing last week when she concluded there was nothing in a police interview with the couple's 8-year-old girl to suggest she heard her parents arguing before her father shot and killed her mother.

ROCKLAND, Maine - Singer Don McLean is pleading not guilty to additional charges stemming from his domestic violence case in Maine.

The "American Pie" singer didn't appear in court during a proceeding related to the case Monday. The Knox County district attorney's office added five charges against McLean last week, bringing the total to six.

McLean's attorney has entered not-guilty pleas to all six charges, including domestic violence assault. Police arrested McLean on Jan. 18.

Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley has received the unanimous recommendation of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee for another 7-year term as head of the judicial branch of Maine government.

She told lawmakers all three branches of government need to work together to address major issues.

“In the upcoming months and years, we must all work together to address the challenges presented by domestic violence, human trafficking and the horrific increase in heroin use and drug addiction,” Saufley says.

A federal judge in Maine will reconsider a case in which a Freeport man was ordered to pay millions of dollars for defaming the owner of a Haitian orphanage.

At issue is whether the court had jurisdiction over the case.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Buxton couple has been charged in connection with a string of home burglaries, mostly in York County.

State Police spokesman Steve McCausland says that 28-year-old Shawn Swenson was charged with 17 burglaries and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Abigail Hall, received summonses on four.

McCausland says Swenson admitted to his involvement in at least seventeen burglaries in Hollis, Dayton, Buxton, Scarborough and Saco. "A troubling aspect was homeowners this week encountered at least the man," McCausland says.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, chair of the Senate Aging Committee, says federal investigators have uncovered a scam operation by drug smugglers to enlist unknowing seniors to help them smuggle drugs across international borders.

“International criminal cartels have begun to use unsuspecting American seniors as mules to smuggle narcotics across international borders,” she says.

Collins says many seniors have been arrested for drug smuggling in foreign countries and some have been jailed.

More than a year after voters defeated a referendum to ban the use of bait, dogs and traps in the state’s bear hunt, supporters of the measure went before the Maine Supreme Court Wednesday morning.

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting had filed suit to prevent the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife from actively campaigning against the measure. After the election a state Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit as moot. But the group is challenging that ruling.

Michelle Sanborn

A plan by the Maine State Prison in Warren to cut back on visitation beginning later this month is raising anxiety among some prisoners’ families and friends who fear it will discourage contact.

AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers are considering a bill that supporters say resolves a conflict in Maine’s drug law.

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee heard from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, who says the proposal would correct a conflict between two statutes by once again making possession of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and several other drugs a felony.

Mills says that under a measure that took effect late last year, the punishment for possession is now “a slap on the wrist.”

AUGUSTA, Maine — Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee have unanimously recommended the appointment of Gov. Paul LePage’s chief counsel as a district court judge. But the recommendation came after some tough questioning for Cynthia Montgomery and an impromptu appearance by the governor himself.