AUBURN — A judge denied bail Wednesday to a 21-year-old Lewiston man charged with murder in the 2013 stabbing and strangulation death of Romeo Parent.
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy concluded after a morning hearing that there was probable cause to charge William True with murder. She also ruled that the state had shown True should not be allowed bail pending trial. A December trial date is scheduled.
Prosecutors relied Wednesday on the testimony of Maine State Police Detective Randall Keaten who wrote an affidavit for the arrest last year of Michael McNaughton, 27, of Lewiston, who was convicted in July of Parent’s murder.
True was indicted in July on the first day of testimony in McNaughton’s murder trial. True also was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been held without bail at Androscoggin County Jail.
True had been charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution in the case and was set to be a co-defendant at McNaughton’s trial. But a key witness for the state, Nathan Morton, 25, of Greene, implicated True in Parent’s murder last spring. The Maine Attorney General’s Office sought an indictment of True at a seating of an Androscoggin County grand jury the first week of July.
True’s attorney, James Howaniec, called Morton as a witness at Wednesday’s hearing. Morton had been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Howaniec sought to show that Morton only told police that True was at the scene of Parent’s murder after he had secured a plea deal with prosecutors for a 20-year sentence, with half of that time suspended.
Morton agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit intentional murder and hindering apprehension in exchange for his testimony at McNaughton’s trial two weeks later.
He admitted to driving Parent, McNaughton and True to a remote wooded area in Greene, where Parent was killed on the night of April 9, 2013. Morton said he returned to the scene the next day with McNaughton and True to help strip Parent’s body and move it to Jug Stream in Monmouth, where it was later found by police.
Morton said at trial that he had tried to protect True because his girlfriend, Felicia Cadman, was a friend of Morton’s.
Keaten said Wednesday that the day after Parent’s death, True’s friend, Eric Leighton, told police that True “may have killed their mutual friend (Parent.)” Leighton also said that True threatened to “kill him, too,” if he told police.
Leighton told police that True had climbed up the back fire escape to Leighton’s apartment, asking if he had a large duffel bag. Leighton gave True two large trash bags and asked why True needed the bags.
True “broke down and became very emotional, claiming that he had killed” Parent, Leighton told police. “True went on to tell Leighton that if he called the police, True would kill him, too,” according to the affidavit.
Leighton also told police that True “appeared to be abnormally clean, describing his prior appearance to always be dirty and unclean,” according to the police affidavit.
True also had told a friend that he was supposed to meet with Morton, McNaughton and Parent in Auburn the night Parent was killed.
Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman noted that Parent’s blood was found on True’s pants. She also said that Cadman was hindering the state’s investigation of True. She was charged in July with felony hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Keaten said True had “always” been a suspect in the case, especially at the beginning.
During a later interview with a local police detective, Leighton said True and Parent had been charged earlier in a burglary. Parent had apparently confessed to police during an interview, implicating True. Parent had received a summons and True had been arrested, Leighton said. Leighton told police that True was “looking to hurt Parent and ‘kick his ass’ for implicating him.”
Howaniec noted that it took police more than a year to charge his client with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. And, Howaniec said on Wednesday, it was only after Morton was promised that he would only spend 10 years in prison that he provided prosecutors with the testimony they would need to go to trial with those charges. Until then, Morton had never placed True at the scene of the murder on the night it occurred despite more than half a dozen police interviews, Howaniec said.
Morton testified Wednesday that he and McNaughton had developed a plan to help McNaughton, with whom Morton had been infatuated.
Howaniec suggested that plan was put into play shortly before the start of McNaughton’s trial when Morton gave a statement to police that said True had been at the murder scene the night Parent was killed.
At McNaughton’s trial, defense attorney Verne Paradie offered True as an alternative suspect in Parent’s murder.