FARMINGTON — A trial began Tuesday for two people accused of attacking a Farmington couple with a meat cleaver and ax last year at their residence on Poverty Lane in Farmington.
Brian Sweeney, 32, of Rumford and Shari Dupree, 32, of Wilton are each on trial before a jury on charges of felony aggravated assault and burglary and misdemeanor charges of assault and criminal mischief at Franklin County Superior Court.
The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The jury is made up of nine men and five women. Two of the jurors will be dismissed as alternates before deliberation. The trial is expected to last two days.
As of 12:15 p.m., when court recessed for lunch, the jury had heard testimony from Farmington police Sgt. Michael Adcock, Detective Marc Bowering and Sgt. Edward Hastings IV.
In his opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said that about 11:40 p.m. April 3, 2012, Jeremiah Gattis and his girlfriend, Stephanie Buzzell, had just shut off the lights and were bed watching television when they heard a tapping on a window. When Buzzell went to look out the window and ax came through the window nearly missing her and she was showered with pieces of glass. Gattis jumped up and put on his shoes.
Buzzell saw a person she recognized as a former roommate, who was known to police as Brian Sweeney, Robbins said.
When Gattis ran to the front of the mobile home he saw glass breaking and a hand reaching in to open the door, Robbins said. When Gattis opened the door he saw an ax swinging at him, he said.
Gattis was able to grab the ax and intense struggled ensued with both Gattis and Sweeney struggling over the ax, Robbins said.
Dupree was swinging a meat cleaver at Gattis and striking him, Robbins said.
Gattis was able to get hold of the ax and meat cleaver, sometimes referred in court as a butcher knife, Robbins said, and he took off running. He thought he was being chased and somehow lost the ax but kept hold of the cleaver, he said.
The two men were friends, and Gattis had given Sweeney a free tattoo, which he was upset about, Robbins said.
Gattis ran back to his home. Sweeney and Dupree had left. Buzzell called police.
Gattis had a laceration on his forehead, a dislocated finger and other injuries. Buzzell had cuts from the glass on her face and arms, Robbins said.
Robbins told the jury that they would hear testimony and not every single piece of the puzzle fits. But at some point they will see the picture, he said.
Sweeney's attorney, Woody Hanstein told the jury that the burden of proof to prove that both Sweeney and Dupree are guilty is entirely on the state. The state has several resources including Farmington police, Franklin County Sheriff Department and Maine State police and all Sweeney has is him.
He also told them that they would need to find Sweeney and Dupree who is represented by Ron Hoffman, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict them.
Hanstein also told the jurors that the tattoo was not free. It was given in exchange for Sweeney building a room for Gattis to grow marijuana in.
Gattis did not tell police that Sweeney was not upset over the tattoo, just that he felt it needed to be fixed, Hanstein said.
He also said that Dupree went to help Sweeney get his clothes out of Gattis' residence. She is no relation to Sweeney and was acquainted with both of them.
When Dupree knocked on the door of Gattis' residence, she was attacked by Gattis with an axe, Hanstein said. Dupree received a gash on the underside of her arm and police didn't photograph it, he said.