Peru murder suspect jailed until bail hearing

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PARIS — A Peru man accused of killing his mother-in-law in front of his 6-year-old daughter at their home Saturday will remain in jail until a bail hearing next month, according to officials.

At an initial court appearance via video conference from the Oxford County Jail on Tuesday, Paul Orchard, 33, of Main Street, Peru, was ordered to have no contact with his daughter, whom police say is a witness in the strangulation death of 57-year-old Paula Nuttall

An autopsy determined Nuttall died of cardiac arrest during strangulation and sexual assault, according to a police affidavit.

Orchard is charged with Class A murder and is being held on $100,000 cash bail. He is also charged with depraved indifference murder. The first count carries a maximum of 30 years in prison; the second carries a minimum of 25 years to life.

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Orchard has no prior criminal history, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

Rumford District Court Judge Lance Walker on Tuesday ordered Orchard to be held without bail until a Harnish hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to deny bail pending trial.

Under Maine law, the court must hold that hearing within five days, a right his attorney, Sarah Glynn, said they chose to waive. A date for the hearing is not expected before Oxford County Superior Court reconvenes in November. 

In the complaint filed with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which prosecutes capital crimes, Orchard is charged with depraved indifference murder, a more serious crime than felony murder.  

According to an affidavit by Detective Michael Chavez of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, Lt. Daniel Carrier of the Mexico Police Department heard a garbled call to the Oxford County Regional Communications Center on his radio and responded to the home. He found Orchard on top of Nuttall in the home, and when Orchard did not get off the woman as ordered, he was removed and handcuffed. 

Emergency responders pronounced Nuttall dead moments later. 

According to police, Orchard’s daughter was playing outside when she heard Orchard and Nuttall, her grandmother, arguing. She went inside and found him beating Nuttall, who told her to hit him with a bottle, which she did. When Carrier arrived, the girl met him on the porch and asked him to help her grandmother.

Orchard was covered in polyurethane and transported to the hospital on the suspicion he may have consumed it. 

According to the affidavit, Orchard told his mother, Margaret Rosher, during a phone call from the hospital, “It was like a vapor high or somethin’ when I was doin’ the floor over.” He said he didn’t remember attacking Nuttall.

“I was high, it was an accident. It was a vapor, I didn’t have a mask on,” he said, according to the affidavit.

ccrosby@sunjournal.com

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