AUBURN — The plot thickened Wednesday on the first day of the murder trial of a Lewiston man charged in the 2013 killing of 20-year-old Romeo Parent.

Michael McNaughton, 26, sat alone at the defense table as prosecutors outlined for the jury their version of how Parent, of Lewiston, died from strangulation in the woods in Greene and his body later stripped and dumped in a stream in Monmouth.

Other players in the case include William True, 20, of Lewiston and Nathan Morton, 25, of Greene.

True had been charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution in the case but was indicted late Wednesday on a murder charge by an Androscoggin County grand jury.

Morton had been indicted on a count of murder but pleaded guilty two weeks ago to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison. But, according to the terms of his agreement with prosecutors, he will only serve half of that time if he doesn’t violate probation.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop took jurors through the many twists and turns of the case that started with a burglary.


Alsop said the large cast of players were couch surfers living hand to mouth who dabbled in petty crimes and drugs. He said Parent was lured to a wooded area in Greene on the promise of a burglary at a camp where there were drugs to be stolen. Morton drove McNaughton, Parent and True to the area in his car. Morton, who had injured his legs in a car accident, waited in the car as McNaughton and True accompanied Parent into the woods. Parent never returned.

Alsop said McNaughton used a homemade garrote to strangle Parent from behind and also stabbed him in the back of the head with a screwdriver he affectionately nicknamed “Pokie.” McNaughton had told a friend earlier that there were three ways to kill a person with a screwdriver and explained each to her. Later, McNaughton told several people he had killed Parent, Alsop said.

According to prosecutors, the motive for the crime stemmed from Parent’s confession to police that he and True had burglarized a Pierce Street home in Lewiston a week earlier. True was later arrested in that burglary. Parent was not.

Alsop said the code of honor among members of the group was that “snitches get stitches.”

Defense attorney Verne Paradie told the jury there were many versions of events floating around the city about what had happened to Parent, and many of the state’s witnesses were just repeating hearsay. The complete version of events as told Wednesday by Alsop to the jury only developed two weeks ago — more than a year after Parent’s killing, Paradie said. After his plea hearing, Morton provided additional information to police, implicating True in Parent’s murder.

Paradie told the jury Wednesday that police failed to find any physical evidence linking Parent to McNaughton. The only evidence they have, other than hearsay, is a so-called “false confession” McNaughton gave police after hours of denying any part in the murder.


Paradie said Morton had changed his story several times, most recently following his plea hearing, hoping to cast doubt on his credibility as a witness for the state.

“Pay attention to which version he tells this time,” Paradie told the jury. He said his defense team would “point the finger at Mr. True” as an alternative suspect, especially in light of his recent murder charge. Paradie said Parent’s blood was found on True’s jeans.

“Who had motive in this case?” Paradie asked.

Among the four witnesses called by the state Wednesday, Maine’s acting Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, who performed the autopsy on Parent’s body, said he died from strangulation. He described Parent’s injuries, including extensive bruising to his scalp, eye, chin, ear, neck, shoulder, elbow and back. Parent’s ankles and one wrist had been bound loosely by strips of cloth, suggesting the bindings weren’t applied to immobilize the body.

Flomenbaum said he couldn’t estimate Parent’s actual time of death, but his body was well-preserved, having been submerged in water in April. He said on cross-examination that Parent could have been killed by more than one person while he was standing or lying down. The instrument used to strangle Parent was no larger than one-eighth of an inch, Flomenbaum said, the diameter of an insulated wire. He said the instrument that made the incision at the back of Parent’s head was consistent with a flat-head screwdriver found at the scene in woods in Greene where police found Parent’s clothing.

The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

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