AUBURN — Nathan Morton testified Thursday that Michael McNaughton told him he stabbed Romeo Parent in the back of the neck with a screwdriver and strangled him seven times with a homemade garrote because he wouldn’t die.

Morton, 25, of Greene is the state’s star witness in McNaughton’s murder trial in Androscoggin County Superior Court. He was the only witness to take the stand on the second day of the trial. He implicated McNaughton, 26, of Lewiston, as well as William True, 20, of Lewiston — who was indicted on a murder charge on Wednesday — in the April 9, 2013, killing of 20-year-old Parent. True’s ex-girlfriend, Felicia Cadman, was indicted Wednesday on a charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution. She and True are expected to be arraigned Friday.

Two weeks ago, Morton agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence, of which 10 years was suspended.

McNaughton’s attorney attacked Morton under cross-examination, pointing out inconsistencies between his testimony and earlier statements during police interrogations.

Morton told the jury of seven men and eight women that he drove McNaughton, True and Parent to a wooded area in Greene on the night of April 9. The group had lured Parent to the spot by fabricating a story of a plan to steal drugs from a camp there.

McNaughton and True went into the woods with Parent while Morton stayed in his car, listening to music and setting up a drug deal by phone, he said. At one point, he heard a scream come from the woods in the direction the trio had walked down a trail.


McNaughton returned to the car “exhausted but excited,” asking to borrow Morton’s phone for its flashlight application because McNaughton had dropped a screwdriver and couldn’t find it. Morton said he accompanied McNaughton to the crime scene where he saw Parent’s body face-up on the ground. The three men searched for the lost screwdriver but left without finding it, Morton said.

Police later recovered the screwdriver when Morton led them to the site following an interrogation. Morton identified that screwdriver in the courtroom Thursday.

Morton, who is gay, said he “was crushing on (McNaughton) hard,” at the time of Parent’s slaying and, for that reason, was willing to do things McNaughton asked him to do that he wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Morton said it was McNaughton’s idea to kill Parent because he had implicated True in a burglary a week earlier that the two had committed. True had been arrested for that crime; Parent had not. Morton said True had reacted to the notion of killing Parent in an accepting manner. Morton said he had agreed with the others initially that Parent should have been “beat up” for “ratting out” True, but that original plan had escalated to killing Parent.

Morton said he had picked for the scene of the crime a wooded location near his family’s home in Greene, and the four of them drove there in Morton’s black 2007 Volkswagen Passat after picking up Parent at a CVS store in Auburn. Morton said McNaughton had asked him to find a place to carry out the planned killing.

Afterward, McNaughton said he’d stabbed Parent in the back of the neck and strangled him seven times “because he wouldn’t die.” True said he had punched and kicked Parent a couple of times.


McNaughton had stripped off his bloody clothes down to his underwear after Parent’s killing and put them in the truck of Morton’s car along with his boots and the makeshift garrote he used to strangle Parent, Morton said.

Morton picked up McNaughton in Lewiston afterward and took him back to his home in Greene where the two had sex, which McNaughton had promised to do, Morton said. It was there Morton noticed McNaughton had scratches on his neck and shoulder.

The next morning on their way into Lewiston, Morton said he and McNaughton stopped at the crime scene and McNaughton went into the woods to check on Parent’s body. Morton talked to two women who asked why he was parked there. He said his friend had dropped his cellphone in the woods the night before.

When McNaughton returned to the car, he told Morton they had to get True to help move Parent’s body.

Back in Lewiston, they found True, who picked up two black trash bags at one friend’s apartment, then sheets and a blanket from another friend. The three later drove to Greene again where they waited at Morton’s home until it was dark enough to return to the crime scene unobserved.

Morton, who had been high on drugs much of the time, said he was “still a little weirded out” from the events.


McNaughton and True went back into the woods while Morton waited with his car. They returned carrying something large between the two of them and put it into the car’s trunk, Morton said. He drove to Jug Stream in Monmouth where McNaughton and True hauled Parent’s body from the car trunk to the water. On the way back to Lewiston, Morton said True rolled down his window and threw a sheet into a ditch along Route 202 in Leeds. Police later found the sheet, which the prosecutor showed to Morton, who identified it in the courtroom Thursday.

Morton said he first denied to police that he knew anything about Parent’s disappearance, but he revealed more in later interviews.

He said he wanted to protect True’s involvement in the crime for the sake of his girlfriend, Felicia Cadman, who was Morton’s friend. He said everyone in his circle of friends knew True better than McNaughton.

Morton told defense attorney Verne Paradie that he would tell police whatever was needed to protect True. Only recently did Morton tell police that True had been at the scene of the killing.

Paradie grilled Morton, questioning him about more than a dozen conflicting statements about his own involvement as well as that of others.

“Is it hard for you to keep your stories straight, Mr. Morton?” Paradie asked.


“No,” Morton said.

Paradie had told the jury during opening statements on Wednesday that police found no physical evidence linking his client to the victim. He sought on Thursday to discredit Morton’s testimony.

When confronted with statements he made earlier to police that contradicted his answers on the witness stand, Morton acknowledged the inconsistencies with, “Yeah,” or, “Apparently, I did.”

Morton said he had lied to police in the past but was telling the truth in court Thursday.

When Paradie said to Morton: “You originally lied to police to protect Mr. True and do you agree that everything you said today is not 100 percent the truth?” Morton answered: “No.”

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