Waterman loses appeal of murder convictions

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PORTLAND — The state’s highest court has rejected appeals of the convictions and sentences of a Sumner man found guilty last year of killing two men in West Paris in 2008.

Duane Christopher Waterman, 34, had argued through his attorney that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. He also argued that an Oxford County Superior Court judge abused his discretion when he denied Waterman the opportunity to question witnesses on an alternative-suspect theory.

The court misapplied principles of law when it set Waterman’s basic sentences at life imprisonment and abused its discretion when it set Waterman’s maximum sentences at two concurrent life sentences, his attorney, John Jenness Jr., argued before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court last month.

Waterman was found guilty last year of fatally shooting Timothy Mayberry, 50, of West Paris and Todd Smith, 43, of Paris at Mayberry’s home on Tuelltown Road in Paris on July 25, 2008.

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Waterman is serving two concurrent life sentences in prison.

The high court concluded that the “evidence was sufficient for a jury to have rationally found beyond reasonable doubt that it was Waterman who murdered Mayberry and Smith.” Waterman had been angry with Mayberry and said he was going to kill him, the judges wrote in their ruling.

Shortly after Mayberry’s neighbors heard gunshots at his house, Waterman’s neighbor saw him driving home with his headlights off. Waterman also went to Mayberry’s house to pick up medication, then left without calling police.

Before the bodies were discovered, Waterman told his wife to say she had sold his .38-caliber gun, which was linked to the bullets found at the crime scene, and he told her she would see on TV the news of Mayberry’s slaying.

Jenness was seeking to question three people as alternative suspects, but was denied by the trial judge.

Evidence incriminating another person “must be more than speculative and conjectural,” the high court wrote, quoting from earlier legal rulings.

The defense failed to provide a proper factual foundation for making the case that someone else could have committed the crime, the court wrote. 

The defense also failed to offer any evidence that alternative suspects committed the crime and didn’t question them during the trial.

As for Waterman’s sentencing, the high court noted that the legal range of imprisonment for murder is 25 years to life on each count. The trial judge must set a basic sentence by looking at the crime committed, then consider aggravating and mitigating factors specific to the defendant that might raise or lower the number of years to be served.

The fact that the murders were premeditated and that Waterman had killed more than one person elevated the level of seriousness of his crimes to that which could result in life sentences, the high court wrote. Added to those factors, Waterman was a convicted felon who was prohibited from having a firearm. He also had his three children waiting in his car outside Mayberry’s house at the time of the murders.

“The court did not misapply sentencing guidelines in this case,” the high court wrote.

The trial court judge did not abuse his discretion when he sentenced Waterman to two concurrent sentences because he found that Waterman had two prior felony convictions. His drug abuse didn’t work in his favor, as he had argued at trial, because it interfered with his ability to provide for his family, the high court wrote.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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