Maine topless coffee shop arsonist appeals

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AUGUSTA (AP) — The man sentenced to 30 years in prison for setting fire to a topless coffee shop in Vassalboro is appealing his conviction to Maine’s highest court.

The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear Raymond Bellavance Jr.’s appeal for a new trial next month.

Bellavance’s lawyer based the request on what he calls errors, including denial of a fair trial and violation of due process rights.

The Kennebec Journal reported that prosecutors say there is nothing to support the contention the trial was unfair.

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The 51-year-old Bellavance was convicted in December 2011 of arson for burning down The Grand View Coffee Shop. Prosecutors said he was angry because his girlfriend, a waitress, was dating the owner. Seven people were sleeping inside when the fire started in June 2009, but escaped unharmed.

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