PARIS — A judge declined to set bail Thursday for a 19-year-old man charged in the shooting deaths of two people in Rumford last year.
Eric Hamel, of Mexico Avenue in Mexico, has been incarcerated without bail since his arrest in August. Hamel, and 21-year-old co-defendant Richard Moulton of Franklin Street in Rumford, are accused of planning and carrying out the murders of 22-year-old Victor Reed Sheldon and 48-year-old Roger Leroy Day Jr. in August.
Following a hearing in the Oxford County Superior Court on Thursday, Justice Robert Clifford said he felt the state had established probable cause in the case.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson called two witnesses to the stand during the hearing. Detective John Hainey of the Maine State Police, one of two primary investigators in the shootings, said Moulton originally said he was in the bathroom of Day’s Pine Street house when the shootings took place. He said Moulton later changed his story to say that he saw Hamel in the house after the shootings and recognized him, and later admitted that he’d agreed to pay Hamel $2,000 to shoot Sheldon.
Hainey testified that police had a third person of interest in the case and for a time were searching for a bag he was said to have thrown into the Androscoggin River. He said a witness who saw a person leaving the house saw sunglasses fall off their head, and that a pair of sunglasses recovered near the scene tested positive for Hamel’s DNA.
Under cross-examination by Hamel’s lawyer, George Hess, Hainey said police had discussed the possibility that two firearms may have been used in the shooting. He agreed that the initial report of the state firearms examiner said a bullet and bullet fragment recovered from the bodies appeared to be from different weapons. Hess later said the report states that there were insufficient microscopic characteristics for positive identification on both projectiles.
Detective Lucas Hare of the Maine State Police, another primary investigator in the case, said the examiner’s opinion was revised after receiving a gun believed to have been used in the crimes. Hare said the differences in the projectiles may have been due to different types of .38-caliber ammunition loaded into the Smith and Wesson revolver found off Oak Street.
Hare said police interviewed Hamel between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Aug. 6 and 7 at the Rumford police station. He said Hamel initially denied involvement in the shootings, but later said that he and Moulton had met three or four times to plan the murders. Hare said Hamel told him he went into the residence and made eye contact with Moulton, who went into the bathroom before he shot the two men.
Hare said Hamel helped police find the gun, which he said was stolen from a neighbor and used in the crime. Hare also testified that the neighbor said the gun had been stolen.
Hess argued that Hamel did not present a substantial risk for flight, failure to appear in court, new criminal conduct, or danger to the community. He said he has no criminal or juvenile record or history of substance abuse, and that Hamel’s family lives in the state.
“He has no history of rule-breaking and no history of violent behavior whatsoever,” Hess said.
Benson said there was “clear and convincing evidence” in the case, and that the serious charges against Hamel could make him more susceptible to flee if he were released.
Hess has filed several motions in the case, including several requesting the suppression of Hamel’s statements and evidence collected by police. He has also requested funds for independent investigators, including a firearms expert and a forensic psychologist.