AUBURN – Brandon Thongsavanh will sit in prison for several months before finding out whether he will get a new trial for the murder of Bates College senior Morgan McDuffee.

Thongsavanh’s lawyer, William Maselli, has appealed the case to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, but it likely will be at least six months before the state’s top justices hear his argument.

Maselli also has petitioned Androscoggin County Superior Court for a new trial, citing several reasons, including a statement that he has obtained from a local girl who claims she overheard someone else confess to the killing.

Justice Ellen Gorman originally planned to hear arguments on Maselli’s request last Thursday while Thongsavanh was in court to receive his sentence.

She decided, however, to postpone the arguments, then she sentenced Thongsavanh to 58 years in prison. A hearing on Maselli’s request has since been scheduled for Sept. 5.

The Auburn defense lawyer doesn’t mind the long wait.

In the past few days, Maselli said, he has heard from two more people who have evidence that someone else may have killed McDuffee, and he is hopeful that more people will come forward over the next several weeks.

“It makes sense to let some time go by,” Maselli said.

Key witness

In one of the motions filed days before Thongsavanh’s sentencing hearing, Maselli argues that he has obtained a statement from a 20-year-old woman who claims that another man told her he stabbed McDuffee, then pinned it on Thongsavanh because he was the most recognizable person nearby when it happened.

The man, Chad Aube, was one of the state’s key witnesses in its case against Thongsavanh. Aube testified during the trial in February that he was fighting with McDuffee in the early morning hours of March 3, 2002, when Thongsavanh came out of nowhere, grabbed McDuffee and started jabbing his fist in his stomach.

But Krystal Paradis claims that she was at a party last fall when Aube confessed to killing McDuffee. Paradis, who is currently in jail for violating probation, recalled Aube telling people that he took out his knife because McDuffee was getting “mouthy,” the motion states.

In another motion, Maselli argues that a woman named Patricia Ouellette contacted Thongsavanh after the trial to tell him that Aube pulled out a knife and showed it to her weeks before the killing.

Ouellette’s statement contradicts the state’s repeated claim that Aube had a reputation for fighting with his fists, not knives, Maselli argues in his motion.

Maselli did not describe the details of the additional statements that he has gathered over the past few days.


As for his appeal to the state’s highest court, Maselli plans to argue several issues, including his belief that the jury’s decision to convict Thongsavanh was tainted by evidence that should not have been allowed in court.

The evidence includes a mug shot of Thongsavanh in which his shaved head reveals horn tattoos, and a videotape of Thongsavanh’s interview with police. In the video, detectives refer to Thongsavanh’s violent history and to the time he spent at the Maine Youth Center.

Maselli argues that Thongsavanh’s right to a fair trial was also violated by some of the state prosecutor’s opening statements and her repeated references to a vulgar T-shirt that Thongsavanh was allegedly wearing on the night of the fight.

A clerk for the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said it usually takes six months after a lawyer files a notice of an appeal before the court holds a hearing on the case, then it could take several weeks or months before a decision is rendered.

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