AUBURN — Prosecutors presented a witness at William True’s murder trial Thursday who said his girlfriend had been looking for him in the hours before he finally turned up at a Lewiston apartment about an hour after 20-year-old Romeo Parent had been killed.
True’s girlfriend, Felicia Cadman, had been searching for him on the night of April 9, 2013. Cadman had gone to the apartment of Jessica Gaudet at about 7:20 p.m. that night, Gaudet testified Thursday.
True, who didn’t own a cellphone, showed up at Gaudet’s apartment between 10:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Gaudet said in Androscoggin County Superior Court on the seventh day of the trial. When True arrived, he cooked a dinner of pancakes and macaroni and cheese for Cadman and Gaudet, she said.
Nathan Morton, 25, had testified earlier in the trial that he had driven his Volkswagen Passat to South Mountain Road in Greene that night. It was there that he dropped off True, Michael McNaughton, 27, of Lewiston and Parent at a path leading into a wooded area. He said Parent had been lured there on the promise of stolen drugs.
Once he was in the woods, Parent was punched, stabbed and strangled to death. His stripped and bound body was moved the following day to Jug Stream in Monmouth.
McNaughton was convicted of murder in July after a three-week jury trial.
Prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Morton, who agreed to testify at McNaughton’s and True’s trials. He was offered a sentence of 20 years with half of that time suspended for pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Cadman was charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Tamesha Haas, who took the witness stand on Thursday, said she had been texting with Morton on the night of April 9, 2013. The two had used a cellphone application called Voxer that showed Morton’s geographical location. On a courtroom screen, the face of Haas’ phone showed that Morton was parked at the entrance to the path leading to the crime scene before 9 p.m. that night. Roughly half an hour later, Morton’s car was entering Lewiston, according to photos of Haas’ phone screen.
She pressed Morton for details about what happened earlier that night and was told that he, True and McNaughton had been involved in Parent’s slaying.
Afterward, she said she cut off communication with Morton and shared with police what Morton had told her about Parent’s murder.
The day after Parent was killed, Morton told True that he had to help move Parent’s body, Gaudet testified.
“Will didn’t want to go,” Gaudet said. He was crying and looked scared, she said. Cadman had tried to talk him out of going, Gaudet said. When Morton arrived at her Lewiston apartment that day around 4 p.m., he told True that he had to go with him and True complied, Gaudet said.
On cross-examination, Gaudet said True had seemed to be in a good mood Tuesday night when he arrived at her apartment, but had been frightened the next day and was worried that he might be harmed before leaving with Morton, she said.
Haas and Gaudet said Cadman had planned to provide True with an alibi. Gaudet said she was coached by Cadman to tell police that only McNaughton had been involved in Parent’s murder.
“She told me I needed to lie about the time that Will showed up at my apartment,” Gaudet said Thursday. “I lied about where Will was and what time he was at my apartment.”
She also lied “about Will’s involvement,” she said.
Morton had instructed her to delete his text messages on her phone, which she had done, she said.
She said she later told police everything she knew.
Another witness, Stephen Demings, said Thursday that McNaughton told him during a walk through downtown Lewiston that he and True had killed Parent, but that McNaughton had been the one who strangled Parent to death. It had taken him seven tries to kill him because Parent had so much Suboxone in his system, McNaughton had told Demings.
McNaughton said that when Parent was dead, True had kicked his lifeless body and that the sound it made was similar to the sound of a soccer ball being kicked, Demings said.
McNaughton said he had used sheets found at the Blake Street apartment of Charles Epps to bind Parent’s wrists and ankles before moving him to Monmouth in the trunk of Morton’s car. Demings identified in court Thursday the floral-pattern sheets that had actually belonged to him, but he had left them at Epps’ apartment when he had recently moved out.
Demings said he had been worried that his sheets might be traced back to him. His wife had advised him to let police know what McNaughton had told him.
Many of the state’s witnesses testified that they were reluctant to talk to police and implicate those involved in Parent’s murder, fearing retribution because “snitching” had apparently been the motive for Parent’s death.
Parent had informed on True to police a week earlier about a burglary the two had committed. True had gone to jail; Parent had not.
A Maine State Police detective described on Thursday the crime scene at the wooded area in Greene where Parent’s sliced-up jeans and slitted black T-shirt were discarded after they were cut from Parent’s body. Photographs that Christopher Farley took at the scene were displayed in the courtroom on a screen for the jury to see.
One photo showed lying in a bed of leaves the orange and dark-blue-handled screwdriver prosecutors said McNaughton used to stab Parent in the back of the neck. Another photo showed orange footprints that members of the Maine State Police Evidence Response Team had spray-painted to highlight heavy foot traffic at the scene.
Tire impressions were photographed, measured and recreated in an effort to match them to Morton’s car.