Rhode Island man denies charges after fleeing police

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LEWISTON — A local man pleaded not guilty Monday to two misdemeanors in connection to a police hunt Friday after neighbors reported shots fired.

Justin Botelho, 24, formerly of Rhode Island but living at 80 Shawmut St., was in 8th District Court, handcuffed and shackled. A judge set his bail at $500 cash.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Reynolds Regan said Botelho was on probation for a 2012 robbery in Rhode Island and wasn’t supposed to be in Maine. She argued that bail should be set at $1,000 because Botelho refused to submit to arrest and may be reluctant to appear for a court date if freed.

Defense attorney Kelly McMorran said Botelho had no cash and was in the process of moving to Maine from Rhode Island. His mother and sister live in Maine and, having earned his GED, he is seeking work in the state. She asked the judge to release Botelho on personal recognizance.

Judge Deborah Cashman said “some cash bail is appropriate,” given the police narrative of his arrest and his resistance to submit. If freed, he would be prohibited from having any dangerous weapons for which he can be searched if authorities suspect he has violated that bail condition.

He was assigned a court-appointed attorney.

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According to a police affidavit supporting his arrest, a 911 caller told a dispatcher shortly before 1:30 p.m. Friday that there was a man at 11 Ash St. who had a gun and was firing it at a pregnant girl. The caller described Botelho, but misspelled his first name as Dustin.

Seven minutes later, police reported they located a man matching the description given by the caller walking on Main Street in the direction of Auburn. An officer ordered the man to stop. The man halted, then approached the officer before turning to run away. The man dropped his backpack in front of a marked police cruiser and ran in the direction of a car wash on Lincoln Street. As he ran, the man threw a black object on the ground, police wrote in the affidavit.

Two officers caught up with the man, brought him to the ground and handcuffed him. The man, identified as Botelho, had been carrying a small, black gun holster on his hip and a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun clip in his pocket.

Investigators searched the area where Botelho first made contact with police and found a black semi-automatic handgun magazine on the side of the road “with several bullets within close proximity.” A detective counted seven live rounds. The magazine was empty.

A woman who had been arguing earlier with Botelho told police that he had threatened to “make sure you can’t drive” her car if she didn’t give him a ride in the car she had borrowed. She had heard three gunshots a short time after their argument and discovered the car’s rear window had been smashed.

Botelho told police that after he had argued with a woman on Ash Street, he grabbed the backpack that belonged to someone named “Anthony.” In it he found two handgun magazines with ammunition in one of them. He also found a holster, but no gun. He told police he never had a gun, but admitted smashing the car’s window with one of the magazines.

He was charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail, and refusing to submit to arrest, which is punishable by up to six months in jail.

illiams@sunjournal.com

Justin Botelho (Submitted photo)

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