PARIS — A Brownfield man who shot at his neighbor nearly two years ago pleaded guilty to elevated aggravated assault Friday and will serve 60 days in jail.
Keith Brain, 44, fired five shots at his neighbor, James Walsh, hitting him twice in the back of the arm and leg in July 2010. The incident was sparked by a dispute between Walsh and his ex-girlfriend, who lived next door to Brain.
Brain will serve 60 days, starting Nov. 21, and must pay up to $7,500 in restitution for Walsh's medical bills. He was sentenced to 12 years, with all but 60 days suspended.
According to a police report, Walsh's ex-girlfriend moved her belongings to a garage at the Brain residence after a domestic incident. Brain's wife told police that Walsh went into the garage, removed other items and threw several of the woman's belongings on the ground. Brain's wife also said that Walsh called her number several times after his ex-girlfriend went to the Brains' house to help clean the garage.
Brain shot Walsh when he was returning a car seat belonging to his ex-girlfriend to the Brains' residence on Saturday afternoon, according to a police report. Walsh said he threw the car seat onto the lawn because he thought it wouldn't be visible at the end of the driveway, and that Brain came outside and threatened him with a .357 Magnum handgun. The men exchanged words and Walsh took off. Brain fired five shots at him.
In November 2010, Walsh pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault and criminal mischief. Charges of domestic violence terrorizing, terrorizing, theft by unauthorized use of property, burglary, theft by unauthorized taking and harassment by telephone were dismissed in exchange for his plea.
Walsh was given a two-year deferred disposition but on May 14 was arrested and charged with violation of protective order, failure to submit to arrest or detention, disorderly conduct, terrorizing and violation of bail condition by Maine State Police.
On Friday, Walsh was transported from Androscoggin County Jail to Oxford County Superior Court, where he told the court he wasn't looking for a severe sentence for Brain. Walsh described the results of the gunshot wounds, including staph infections.
Walsh said he'd suffered physical and psychological damage as a result of the shooting. He said he and Brain were both caught up in a “web of lies” orchestrated by his ex-girlfriend, Brain's wife and others.
The defendant said he didn't hate Walsh. “I wish him the best,” he said.
Brain, who is a product management director at FairPoint Communications in Portland, had no criminal history. Brain's lawyer, Robert Ruffner, asked for a 60-day sentence starting on Thanksgiving, so that Brain could use accrued vacation and holiday time to avoid losing his job.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne argued for a longer sentence, and said it was unacceptable for Brain to settle a neighborhood dispute with a firearm. “A short sentence in this case will unavoidably send the message that neighbor disputes can be solved by a gun,” he said.
Justice Robert Clifford said he saw no risk of Brain re-offending. He sentenced Brain to 12 years with all but 60 days suspended, stayed until Nov. 21 at 5 p.m.