Lewiston murder suspect headed to trial unless plea deal made

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AUBURN — A 21-year-old Lewiston man is expected to go to trial for murder unless he and prosecutors can reach agreement on that charge and others by Nov. 10.

William True,  charged in the 2013 stabbing and strangulation death of 21-year-old Romeo Parent, is scheduled for a plea hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court on that date.

His attorney, James Howaniec, said Friday that his client and the state haven’t agreed on the terms of a plea.

The two sides have met twice with a judge in an effort to settle the case, but remain divided, Howaniec said.

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“We don’t have an agreement at this point,” he said.

The two sides are continuing to communicate and could still come to terms on one or more of the three charges facing True by the date of the hearing.

A December trial also is planned, should a plea agreement not materialize.

True was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

If a plea deal were successful, the two sides could leave it up to a judge to decide what the sentence should be, agree to a maximum sentence that True would have to serve while allowing him to argue for a lesser sentence, or he and prosecutors could recommend to the judge a fixed sentence True would have to serve.

A judge denied bail to True last month after a hearing. Justice MaryGay Kennedy concluded that there was probable cause to charge True with murder and that the state had shown that he shouldn’t be allowed bail pending trial.

Michael McNaughton, 27, of Lewiston was convicted of Parent’s murder in July.

True was indicted on the first day of testimony in McNaughton’s murder trial. He pleaded not guilty to the three charges and has been held without bail at Androscoggin County Jail.

True had been charged only 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 which coincided with the start of McNaughton’s trial.

At True’s bail hearing last month, Howaniec sought to show that Morton, who had been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, 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 one of Morton’s friends.

Police said True had confessed to another friend that he may have killed Parent. True’s blood was found on Parent’s pants, prosecutors said.

Police 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, according to a witness for the state, who told police that True was seeking to get back at Parent.

At McNaughton’s trial, his defense team offered True as an alternative suspect in Parent’s murder.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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