AUGUSTA — A man accused of attempting to murder a sheriff’s deputy in Belgrade last year in a shoot-out that left a homeowner dead goes to trial Monday.
Scott A. Bubar, 41, of Brunswick, was indicted on charges of aggravated attempted murder of Sgt. Jacob Pierce and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, both of which allegedly occurred May 19, 2017, at a mobile home at 1003 Oakland Road, near the Oakland town line.
Bubar’s father, Roger Bubar, 65, was killed in the exchange of gunfire with Pierce, and Scott Bubar was shot.
Scott Bubar had pleaded not guilty to both charges and waived his right to a jury trial last month, so the case will be decided by Justice Michaela Murphy. The trial is expected to take place throughout the week at the Capital Judicial Center.
The aggravated attempted murder charge carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
The Maine attorney general’s office, which investigates all uses of deadly force by law enforcement officers, issued a report to Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason in June 2018 clearing Pierce in the use of deadly force.
“It is our determination that when Sgt. Pierce shot Roger and Scott Bubar, he reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force against him and others was not only imminent but had in fact already been used,” concluded the letter signed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese.
Several defense pretrial motions had sought to compel the state to provide its evidence in the case — much of which had been held by the attorney general’s office.
At one point, Murphy told the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, to give the attorney general’s office her order to turn over ballistics reports, photographs, laboratory analysis reports, DNA reports and autopsy information. Murphy said that “would be critical at that point.”
The defense previously sought a change of venue for a jury trial, with attorney Lisa Whittier telling Murphy at a May 23 hearing, “There is no place in the state that has not gotten a lot of publicity with Eugene Cole’s case. It’s still saturated.”
Cpl. Eugene Cole, 61, a deputy with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, was shot to death April 25 in Norridgewock, about 35 miles from the courthouse in Augusta. John D. Williams, now 30, of Madison, is charged with the “intentional and knowing murder” of Cole.
Bubar’s defense attorneys previously requested that jurors view the scene of the Bubar home in Belgrade, but it is unclear whether the judge will travel there.
Defense attorney Scott Hess told Murphy that the property, owned by Jenny Shorey and Roger Bubar, was in the control of Shorey’s family.
An arrest affidavit by Kennebec County Detective Michael Bickford — based partly on some statements by Pierce — says police were sent at 9:35 p.m. that night to the home in response to reports of a fight between two men, with the son beating on the father’s car. It also says that the caller reported hearing a gunshot at 9:43 p.m., and that when Pierce arrived just before 11 p.m., he reported two people inside the home, barricading it.
Pierce reported seeing “an individual come to a window carrying a rifle or shotgun.” Pierce said the person was making threats, broke a window and threatened to shoot.
At 11:07 p.m., according to the affidavit, Pierce said the two people inside were barricading doors and windows “and states one of the individuals made a reference to ‘going down in a blaze of glory.’”
More hollering from inside is reported 11 minutes later, and then gunshots, followed by two more rounds of gunshots. It also says that at the same time, “a female can be heard crying, also from inside the residence, then a male screaming.”
The woman, who identified herself as Shorey, called police to say someone is shot and she is bedridden in the living room.
Scott Bubar was arrested that night and charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.
According to Whittier, none of Scott Bubar’s DNA was found on any weapons in the home, and both sides wrangled over DNA testing of the bullets by experts at the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory.
On Friday, the judge ruled on several motions by both the defense and the prosecution.
Murphy refused to suppress statements Bubar made to police that night, including “his statement that his gun was ‘in the kitchen,’ which he is heard making on the 911 (call) placed by Ms. Shorey.” Murphy concluded that fell “within the public safety exception established by the U.S. Supreme Court. … The questions put to defendant here were limited, appropriate, necessary and were motivated by a concern for public safety.”
Murphy also found that Bubar’s statements were voluntary, noting at the time that “he had been shot by the police, that he lost a sufficient amount of blood to leave impressive amounts of visible stains, and that he emerged from the trailer naked wearing only a blanket.”
Murphy suppressed some statements Shorey made to a 911 operator at about 11:15 that night, about half an hour after the shooting stopped.
Murphy’s order says, “Jenny Shorey is a bedridden woman who was confined in this shooting incident and ‘standoff’ to her bed which was in the trailer’s living room. Her longstanding boyfriend and his son, the defendant had been shot by law enforcement officers and her boyfriend was killed.”
Murphy said the statements Shorey made early in the conversation “qualify as excited utterances.”
In this November 2017 file photo, Scott A. Bubar, center, is flanked by his attorneys, Lisa Whittier, left, and Scott Hess during a bail hearing at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. (Kennebec Journal file photo)