LEWISTON – At Warden’s Bar and Grill on Tuesday night, it really wasn’t about guilt or innocence.

The mood at the Sabattus Street hangout, known to be friendly to bikers and supportive of murder suspect Danny Roberts, it was mostly about loyalty and loss.

“Danny was like a son to me. He always has been and he always will be,” said Jen Gagne, who owns the bar with her husband Neal. “I’m not the kind of person who will turn her back on someone she cares about. No matter what the circumstances.”

The mood at the bar was subdued, if not downright somber. Few people were discussing the legalities of the case that led to the conviction of Roberts on a charge of murder. They steered away, for the most part, from talking about Roberts’ affiliation with the Hells Angels motorcycle group. There was not much blame being slung around the bar.

“His being with the Hells Angels, it shouldn’t have anything to do with it. People have a right to choose what lifestyle they want. I know a lot of people who put colors on their backs and they never have this kind of trouble,” Jen Gagne said.

After one afternoon of deliberation, a jury on Tuesday found Roberts, 37, guilty of murder in the 2005 shooting death of his girlfriend, 29-year-old Melissa Mendoza. Roberts had claimed he was defending himself and the couple’s daughter.

“You know there are going to be opinions on both sides,” she said. “People are going to think and say what they want. But you know, there’s grieving going on both sides. I feel bad for his family and I feel bad for hers.”

“It’s unfortunate for everybody, everybody on both sides,” her husband, Neal, agreed. He said he would remain loyal to Roberts through the appeal process and everything that follows. “Danny’s like the kid brother I never had. It’s like a wedding vow, until death do us part.”

If there was anger at Warden’s Tuesday night, it was over a matter with how families were notified about the verdict. The jury came back with its decision before 5 p.m.

“It shocked a lot of people,” Jen Gagne said. “They said everyone would have enough time to get to the courthouse when the verdict came down. But not even Danny’s dad got a chance to get over there.”

Why that happened remained a mystery Tuesday night. When Roberts’ attorney, Leonard Sharon, got the news that the jury had reached a verdict, he called Roberts’ family. But in the span of just a few minutes, the jury was in the courtroom announcing its decision.

“That certainly didn’t help,” said Joan Roberts, Danny Roberts’ step-mother. “We were very disappointed. We just couldn’t believe we didn’t have time to get there in time to be there with him.”

The relative speed of the verdict seemed significant to some. Most had expected deliberations to last for days.

“It tells me a lot of them had their minds made up early on,” Jen Gagne said.

Prosecutors in the case said the verdict came down quickly because the jury did not buy Roberts’ story that he was defending himself when he shot Mendoza.

As for Jen Gagne, she was getting back to the business of running her bar late Tuesday night. But she said Roberts and his future is always on her mind.

“It’s hard,” she said, “and it’s going to continue to be hard.”


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