AUBURN — A jury of five men and seven women deliberated Thursday the fate of Michael McNaughton, who is charged with murdering 20-year-old Romeo Parent of Lewiston in April 2013.

Jurors discussed the case for about an hour-and-a-half before Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy sent them home for the day at 5 p.m. They are scheduled to resume deliberations at 9 a.m. on Friday.

The trial ran 11 days over three weeks.
 
In their final contact with the jury on Thursday, both the prosecution and the defense asked jurors to “connect the dots” as they consider who killed Parent.
 
A medical examiner testified that Parent died from strangulation from a ligature device. Prosecutors told the jury they believed it was a homemade garrote called “chokey,” fashioned from a bicycle cable and wooden dowels. The medical examiner also said Parent had been stabbed in the back of the neck with a tool consistent with a screwdriver.

Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman said the dots composed of witness testimony and physical exhibits they presented should lead to the conviction of McNaughton, 26, of Lewiston. 

Defense attorney Verne Paradie Jr. said the evidence should lead to his client’s acquittal. 

Prosecution and defense delivered lengthy closing arguments.

Police say McNaughton killed Parent because he had implicated a mutual friend. That friend, William True, 20, of Lewiston, also was at the scene of the slaying, police believe. True was charged with murder two weeks ago in connection with Parent’s slaying.

A third man charged with murder in connection with the case, Nathan Morton, 25, of Greene, implicated both True and McNaughton in statements to police. Morton said he drove the two men and Parent to a wooded area in Greene where Parent was killed. Morton pleaded guilty before the trial to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for his testimony and a 20-year prison sentence of which 10 years was suspended. His murder charge was dropped.

Parent’s body was found April 12, 2013, in Jug Stream in Monmouth three days after he was killed.

In her closing argument, Cashman outlined the evidence against McNaughton, including a screwdriver witnesses identified as McNaughton’s, which he nicknamed “Pokey.” She also reminded the jury of testimony from several witnesses who said McNaughton had told friends and acquaintances that he killed Parent and McNaughton had confessed to police.

“Romeo begged for his life, pleading with Michael not to do this,” Cashman said. “But as Michael told you himself in that recorded interview with detectives, literally once he started down that road he had no other way to go.”

Paradie called the state’s “proof” into question.

He said there was no DNA, fingerprints or other physical evidence tying McNaughton to the murder, and the evidence that might have exonerated him — including a hair found under Parent’s fingernail — had never been tested by the state crime lab.

He called the witnesses unreliable, noting their stories had changed over time and at some points contradicted each other.

He said detectives used classic coercive techniques during McNaughton’s questioning, including keeping him isolated in a small, windowless room, refusing to believe his protests of innocence, lying to him about evidence and promising or insinuating that his punishment wouldn’t be so severe if he confessed. Paradie said McNaughton’s confession to police was a lie, his attempt to get out of a bad situation.

“Connect the dots; Mike McNaughton took the bait,” Paradie said.

In her final comments to the jury, Cashman called McNaughton “the unluckiest man alive if he’s the person who’s the subject of a vast conspiracy to frame him up for this.”

“The circumstantial evidence . . . connects the dots between Michael McNaughton, that screwdriver and Romeo Parent’s death,” she said.

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