Mistrial declared in stabbing case

AUBURN — A mistrial was declared in the Raikuez Melchoirre stabbing trial after three days of deadlocked jury deliberation.

Raikuez Melchoirre mistrial
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Raikuez Melchoirre hides his face as he walks out of the Law Library in the Androscoggin County Courthouse on Monday afternoon after three days of deadlocked jury deliberation in his stabbing trail that was declared a mistrial Monday afternoon.

A jury of six men and six women began deliberations on Thursday afternoon in the 2011 case, and, by Monday afternoon, they reported to the judge in Androscoggin County Superior Court that they were deadlocked.

Justice Carl Bradford had declined to declare a mistrial on Friday after the jury reported it was hopelessly divided. Bradford sent the jurors home for the weekend.

They renewed deliberations shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday. An hour later, they sent a note to Bradford asking that the transcript of the testimony of three witnesses be read back to them.

Melchoirre, dressed in a suit, sat in the Androscoggin County Courthouse Law Library as the testimony was read by the court reporter for an hour and a half.

The jury appeared to struggle in reaching unanimity, particularly on the issue of self-defense.

A juror, who declined to be named, said afterward that the jury was split 8-4 in favor of a guilty verdict from the start of deliberations. In order to find Melchoirre had acted in self-defense, jurors would have had to decide that he was justified using at least one of four criteria. Only four jurors were able to do that.

At 3:30 p.m. Monday, Bradford polled the jurors one at a time, and each declared they remained deadlocked on a verdict and were unlikely to resolve their division, at which point the judge declared a mistrial.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis said the two sides were negotiating a possible plea deal, but were unable to reach agreement on Monday. Negotiations would be ongoing, he said.

Meanwhile, Melchoirre would remain at Androscoggin County Jail on $10,000 cash bail.

Matulis said Melchoirre's name would be placed on the next available trial list if the two sides don't agree on a plea. He said it's always difficult for the state to retry a case, especially when a couple of years have passed since the event and memories continue to fade. 

Melchoirre, 35, of Lewiston, was on trial for the June 19, 2011, stabbing that left victim Richard "Buddy" Edwards Jr. with multiple wounds to his face, shoulders, knee, chest and abdomen.

Prosecutors portrayed the stabbing as a vicious attack by Melchoirre against Edwards.

After his first stab wound to the stomach, Edwards was hurt, bleeding and incapable of defending himself, Matulis said.

Defense attorney Maurice Porter painted an image of Edwards as a drunken thug and the incident as an "ambush," during which Edwards leaped from the dark and jumped on the back of Melchoirre.

After drinking for hours at a party at 73 College St. in Lewiston, the two men ended up in a fistfight, then later fought again. During the second fight, Melchoirre stabbed Edwards, witnesses said during two-and-a-half days of testimony.

The jury asked Bradford to repeat his instructions on self-defense and also wanted a closer look at a buck knife — the apparent weapon — recovered at the scene.

On Friday, the jury asked to re-hear the testimony of two witnesses to the stabbing and again asked for more information on self-defense.

On Monday, the jury asked for additional testimony to be read back before finally telling the judge they could not reach a decision.

If convicted of elevated aggravated assault, Melchoirre faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. He has been held at the Androscoggin County Jail on $10,000 bail since his arrest.

UPDATE: Lewiston stabbing suspect freed after plea deal

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John Ziehm

Well im Buddy Edwards, its kinda ridiculous how anyone can be stabbed an excessive amount of times and it be declared self defense. For the gentlemen John Ziehm, You werent there you dont know any facts your just reading here say on the newspaper. So you should mind your business. Nobody reading this knows what i have went through in the last couple years. The fact is i got permanent injuries to my knee and radial nerve damage in my left hand and over 50 scars that i get reminded of everyday when i look in the mirror. I cant run,jump or get on my knees to play with my own child. Im not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me. I just want some sort of justice and closure. The defendant in this case has only served two years on this case and il be dealing with it for the rest of my life. People make mistakes, and you live and you learn. Im just thankful that im still here and want to wake up from this awful nightmare and move on with my life.

hung jury means wasted money

Two people who were both intoxicated and one was a bully. No matter what his skin color, attitude or the fact he used a weapon to defend himself the 2nd time he was attacked the 4 people on the jury who could not convict him have a point. It`s time to release him and let it go because no matter what the state does they will still have to deal with the facts, and the facts are that the other guy started it and started it again with intent to beat him up. No telling how bad it would have been for Melchiorre if he would have taken that beating, but there is no doubt that was what The bully edwards had planned for him in his drunken stupor.

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