AUBURN — A Lewiston man convicted in July of killing 20-year-old Romeo Parent is seeking a new trial.
Michael McNaughton, 27, filed an amended motion in Androscoggin County Superior Court this week, adding to his claim that prosecutors failed to turn over to the defense information that would have helped McNaughton prevail at his trial.
Prosecutors dismissed the defense’s claim that the information would have resulted in a different verdict.
Defense attorney Verne Paradie Jr. said he received a packet of information Monday related to an interview dating back to July 10, one day into McNaughton’s three-week trial. At that interview, a detective questioned the girlfriend of the alternative suspect in McNaughton’s trial. That suspect, William True, 21, of Lewiston was indicted on a murder charge by an Androscoggin County grand jury a day earlier, the opening day of McNaughton’s trial. True also was accused of killing Romeo Parent in April 2013.
During her interview with police, Felicia Cadman, True’s girlfriend, “admitted to the detectives that William True told her he had killed Romeo Parent,” Paradie wrote in his motion. “She also told detectives that on the night before the murder, that Will True had punched Romeo in the face.”
Cadman told detectives that she hadn’t seen or spoken to McNaughton or Nathan Morton, 25, of Greene the day that Parent was slain. Morton, who admitted driving McNaughton to the scene where Parent was killed, testified at McNaughton’s trial that the defendant admitted stabbing and choking Parent to death. Last spring, Morton told police that True also was at the scene of the murder. Morton, who also had been charged with Parent’s murder, agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for his testimony and a 20-year prison sentence, with half of that time suspended.
When she met with police, Cadman said that True “never once told her that McNaughton had committed the murder,” Paradie wrote in his amended motion, filed Tuesday.
Paradie claimed in his amended motion that text messages among police officers and Cadman and a witness at McNaughton’s trial should have been shared with him but were withheld as part of discovery. After McNaughton’s trial, Paradie asked prosecutors for copies of those text messages but never got them, he wrote in his motion this week.
In his original motion for a new trial, filed in August, Paradie argued that information that should have been provided to the defense before the July trial was sent to his office in mid-August. Some of the information had been presented at trial, but two items had not, he wrote.
One of the items was a recording of an interview with True four days before Parent was murdered. Parent had implicated True in a burglary before Parent was killed. The apparent motive for Parent’s death was that he had informed to police about True’s involvement in the burglary. True had been charged in that crime; Parent had not.
Moreover, prosecutors sent Paradie a report and a recording about a phone call that one of the state’s witnesses had made to Cadman. In that call, Cadman “apparently admits that she had basically been lying about William True being in the woods on the night of the murder,” Paradie wrote. That information wasn’t provided to him before or during the trial, he wrote.
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop wrote in answer to Paradie’s original motion for a new trial that the defendant must establish five elements in order to get a new trial and that Paradie’s motion doesn’t meet all of those elements.
The recording of the interview with True had been available to the defense had Paradie done his “due diligence.” But, “the recorded confession is not material to any issue in the case,” Alsop wrote, and wouldn’t have changed the outcome of McNaughton’s trial.
As for the phone call between Cadman and Jessica Gaudette, a witness at McNaughton’s trial, Alsop wrote that there “is nothing in (Cadman’s) statement that renders it more or less likely that Michael McNaughton participated in the murder.”
Prosecutors have not yet answered the amended motion filed this week by the defense.