AUBURN — It took a jury 13 hours to convict Michael McNaughton of murder and hindering apprehension Monday in the brutal 2013 slaying of 20-year-old Romeo Parent of Lewiston.

The jury foreman delivered the verdicts in Androscoggin County Superior Court at 3:15 p.m. on the third day of deliberations.

Witnesses testified for 10 days over three weeks in the trial of McNaughton, 26, of Lewiston.

He bowed his head at the verdicts and cupped his face in his hands, then put his eyeglasses on a table and shook his head. His mother, seated at the back of the courtroom, wept.

Parent’s mother, who attended the trial, smiled as McNaughton was handcuffed and led from the courtroom.

Defense attorney Verne Paradie Jr. asked the court clerk to poll the jurors one by one after the foreman delivered the guilty verdicts. Two women choked back tears as they answered “guilty” to the charges.


Lead prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman said she was “very happy” with the jury’s decision, as well as its careful consideration of the evidence, as was suggested by the various notes jurors passed along to the judge during deliberations. She said the jury appeared to be interested in McNaughton’s movements in the days leading up to the slaying, as well as during its aftermath.

“At the end, they came to the conclusion that Mr. McNaughton was responsible for this,” she said, providing “some closure” to Parent’s family.

Neither Cashman nor Paradie predicted whether McNaughton might be given a life sentence. In Maine, there are several factors that must be present during the commission of a murder case to elevate punishment to a life sentence.

“It was a brutal killing,” Cashman said. “That’s something to consider.” 

Paradie said the lengthy period of deliberation meant the jury took its job seriously and looked at all the evidence.

“They saw that there was some doubt in this case, and they worked their way through it,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but it shows they sure did their job.”


Of McNaughton, Paradie said, “He’s obviously very upset and disappointed . . . I think it’s been a long, emotional ride for everybody.”

Although he’ll have to wait until after he’s sentenced, McNaughton has “some pretty good issues” for an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in an effort to gain a new trial, Paradie said. McNaughton, through Paradie, had filed a motion to suppress statements he had made to police. The trial judge allowed most of his statements at trial. Paradie had asked the court to reconsider its ruling, but had been denied.

Prosecutors introduced the jury of five men and seven women to a cast of young couch-surfers, known to each other largely through drug connections and petty crime to support their drug habits.

Cashman and Assistant Attorney General John Alsop built their case against McNaughton, using statements from his circle of friends and acquaintances who conveyed details of the crime and its attempted cover-up to each other and to police.

But it was McNaughton’s second interview with police detectives at the Lewiston police station on April 12, 2013, when he made incriminating statements regarding his involvement in Parent’s killing that likely carried the most weight with the jury.

Half an hour into their deliberations on Friday, jurors sent a note to Justice MaryGay Kennedy, asking that they be allowed to watch for a second time McNaughton’s 3 a.m. interrogation, which lasted roughly an hour. In the middle of that interview, McNaughton had expressed apprehension at being recorded in the small, windowless concrete-block interview room. The detectives interrogating him took him outside the station building and talked to him for about eight minutes.


That exchange had been captured on a grainy, black-and-white surveillance video. There was no audio track.

The latter part of McNaughton’s second interview was played for the jury, including his exchange with Maine State Police Detective John Hainey.

Hainey had testified at trial that McNaughton had said outside the station that he had strangled Parent using a makeshift garrote, nicknamed “chokey,” fashioned from a bicycle cable and wooden dowels. McNaughton also said he stabbed Parent in the back of the neck with a screwdriver he had nicknamed “Pokie,” Hainey had said.

Back in the station, McNaughton can be seen and heard telling Hainey, “I really didn’t mean to do it.”

When asked what made him snap, McNaughton answered: “I didn’t snap, sir. It was, after it started, it, I, I . . .”

Hainey asked: “When you put it around his neck, he acted a different way than you thought?”


“No. It was after he threw himself back, after that point, I was scared and lost and only had one direction. Because . . .”

Hainey asked whether that direction was to “take it all the way.”

“Yes, sir,” McNaughton said.

At another point later in the interrogation, McNaughton was asked about whether he might be suicidal or violent.

“I would never hurt, start violence against someone . . . except for, obviously, this one f—— incident,” he said.

When Hainey asked McNaughton whether police were likely to find the garrote used in the killing as they had found the screwdriver at the scene, McNaughton told him they wouldn’t find it.


“You took it?” Hainey asked.

“Yes. Poofed.”

Asked what that meant, McNaughton had said, “It was handed to someone else random and told to dispose of it.”

The jury also asked during deliberations that the testimony of Jessica Gaudet of Auburn be read aloud by the court stenographer.

Gaudet said her friend, Felicia Cadman of Mechanic Falls, had told her shortly after Parent was slain that McNaughton was the one who had killed Parent by strangling him seven times “because he wouldn’t die.”

The jury also listened to the stenographer read Gaudet’s testimony when she said McNaughton showed her a screwdriver he carried that he called “Pokie.” He explained how he could paralyze a person by stabbing him in the neck with the tool, just days before Parent was killed.


On Monday afternoon, the jury asked the judge to replay a part of McNaughton’s first interview with police where he tells them his tools, including a screwdriver, went missing before the slaying from his room in a Blake Street apartment in Lewiston.

Defense attorney Verne Paradie Jr. and co-counsel Adam Sherman used statements witnesses had made to police during interviews last year to point out inconsistencies in their trial testimony to cast doubt on their truthfulness. They sought to make the jury question the credibility of McNaughton’s friends and acquaintances by noting they had withheld information and changed their stories, sometimes more than once.

The defense also took aim at McNaughton’s confession, suggesting police had used coercive interrogation techniques that may have resulted in a “false” confession. An expert witness for the defense testified generally that one such technique begins with dismissals of a suspect’s repeated denials, followed by efforts to minimize the effect of the crime by hinting at more morally acceptable reasons why it might have happened. Paradie drew comparisons to the questions asked by McNaughton’s interrogators.

The strongest part of the case presented by the defense was the lack of physical evidence that would otherwise have placed McNaughton at the crime scene. The strongest link shown by prosecutors was the existence of Parent’s DNA on a screwdriver found at the scene that several witnesses swore on the stand had belonged to McNaughton. But the defense noted that neither McNaughton’s DNA nor fingerprints were found on that screwdriver.

McNaughton also had scratches on his neck and arms that were consistent with a struggle with someone whom he had been standing behind.

Prosecutors said the apparent motive of the crime was “payback” to Parent for having “snitched” on William True, 20, of Lewiston, with whom Parent had committed a burglary the week before he was killed. True had confessed to a friend shortly after the slaying that he had killed Parent. True had been charged only with hindering apprehension or prosecution until three weeks ago, when an Androscoggin County grand jury indicted him on a murder count in this case.


Another man charged with murder stemming from Parent’s slaying was Nathan Morton, 25, of Greene.

Morton was the state’s star witness at the trial. He told police that he had driven Parent and McNaughton to a wooded area in Greene and parked. He remained in the car while McNaughton and Parent walked into the woods, Parent having been promised that he would be participating in a robbery involving drugs.

Only McNaughton returned from the woods, Morton had told police. Morton said McNaughton had confessed to stabbing and strangling Parent.

Morton had led police to the scene of the slaying, where police recovered a screwdriver and Parent’s clothing. Morton also led police to Jug Stream in Monmouth, where Parent’s lifeless body, stripped and bound, was recovered.

Morton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for his trial testimony and a 20-year prison sentence. Half of that sentence was suspended, and the murder charge against him was dropped.

A half-dozen people were charged in the case.

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