Cruthirds pleads not guilty to attempted murder


AUBURN — A Lewiston man indicted earlier this month on six criminal charges related to a stabbing in Lewiston in December pleaded not guilty to all charges Friday morning.

Cleveland Cruthirds, 25, was arrested Dec. 11 and charged with attempted murder, criminal attempt and violating condition of release and confined to Androscoggin County Jail on $20,000 cash bail.

Ten days later, jail officials said they found evidence of a planned jailbreak, including a broken window that Cruthirds and another prisoner had intended to use as an escape route. Cruthirds was transported to Maine State Prison in Warren where his bail was set at $250,000 cash or $1 million in property.

Wearing a prison uniform and with his head bowed down, he entered the not guilty pleas via video arraignment in the law library at the Androscoggin County Courthouse to save the cost of transporting him to the Auburn court.

In addition to the original charges, Cruthirds was indicted earlier this month on charges of aggravated attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and burglary, all in connection with the stabbing of his sometime-girlfriend Naomi Swift.

Cruthirds, who is being housed in solitary confinement at the prison, is represented by Lewiston attorney James Howaniec.

During Friday’s arraignment, Howaniec informed Justice MaryGay Kennedy that he expected to enter a request for a psychological evaluation on his client, and asked for 30 days to file additional motions in the case.

Howaniec waived consideration of reduced bail, and Assistant Attorney General Joshua Robbins asked for bail conditions to include no contact with Swift, her friends or family, or with any of the witnesses named in court documents. That request was granted.

According to court records, Cruthirds attacked Swift with a knife, stabbing her repeatedly in the head, torso and arms. At the time, Cruthirds was out on bail on a domestic violence charge and was prohibited from having contact with Swift.

Several days after the attack, Swift spoke with the Sun Journal and described Cruthirds’ attack in her Blake Street apartment, stabbing her more than two dozen times.

According to Swift, she had been sitting in her apartment with another woman when Cruthirds broke down the door to the apartment and the one to her bedroom. He was in a rage, Swift said, because she had been talking on the phone to her husband, who is in prison.

According to a police affidavit, Cruthirds was also angry because Swift had been talking to her ex-boyfriend online. In a 911 call, Cruthirds could be heard shouting, “You cheated on me,” as Swift tries to explain her plight to an emergency dispatcher.

Swift was treated at Central Maine Medical Center for several days after the attack. During her hospital stay, she was deaf in one ear and unable to lift her right arm. One of her lungs had been nicked and she suffered cranial nerve damage.

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