AUBURN — A Lewiston man convicted last year of two gun-related felonies is seeking a new trial, claiming new evidence should exonerate him.
A hearing is scheduled for next week in Androscoggin County Superior Court, where Malik Hollis, 22, is expected to present a witness who was in the vicinity of the incident with her daughter at the time it occurred.
Hollis is serving a three-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.
The incident referenced in a motion filed by Hollis’s lawyer, James Howaniec, occurred the morning of May 21, 2016, in downtown Lewiston.
Police said Hollis had told them he had gotten into an argument with some men he did not know when he was on College Street. He said they had been harassing him recently for no apparent reason and had hit him with a stick after the argument.
He said he left the men, retrieved a gun from his apartment, then returned to where the men were. He said he fired the gun in their direction but had not intended to hit anybody, only to scare them.
Police said in court papers that one of the men who had argued with Hollis told police he had been having ongoing issues with him over drug dealing at his College Street home.
The man said Hollis was armed with a stick and a rock, so the man armed himself with a metal pipe and knocked the stick and rock from Hollis’s hands. That was when Hollis ran back to retrieve his gun, the man told police.
In his motion seeking a new trial for Hollis, Howaniec wrote that one of the four witnesses who later testified at Hollis’s trial said he struck Hollis on the wrist with a metal pipe, indicating he believed he might have broken Hollis’s wrist. That witness, Dillon Howes, said in court that he called Hollis the N-word and told him that he wanted to kill him.
Evidence shared by prosecutors with Howaniec indicated that four white men confronted Hollis, who is black, on the street, according to a motion that Howaniec filed last month. “Evidence indicated the four white men were respectively in possession of a metal pipe, a baseball bat, a police baton and a rock.”
None of the four men was charged with a crime, Howaniec wrote in his motion.
Susan Sharon, a reporter and deputy news director at Maine Public Radio, and her daughter witnessed the incident, observing the four men “physically attacking the lone black man, contrary to the testimony of Mr. Howes,” Howaniec wrote.
He wrote, “Ms. Sharon and her daughter were of the opinion that the defendant was in great danger and was being ganged up upon by the white men. Ms. Sharon reported the incident to the police, but for some reason, the Lewiston Police Department did not follow up with or take the statement from either Ms. Sharon or her daughter.”
Police said Hollis fired shots in the direction of several men. Officers found two spent shell casings from a .380-caliber pistol on the street, where witnesses said the shooting occurred. Hollis claimed he was acting in self-defense.