AUBURN — Attorneys for protesters in tandem trials argued Monday that Auburn police gave them too little time to clear off the downtown railroad tracks, where they were protesting the passage of a train carrying crude oil.

Lawyers for Jessie Dowling of Unity and Douglas Bowen Jr. of Porter argued that the pair, who had linked arms and sat on tracks near Denny’s restaurant on Aug. 28, 2013, were given only seconds to respond to police demands before they were handcuffed and arrested.

“There were 35 seconds,” said Logan Perkins, Dowling’s lawyer. “That is fast, and I think it’s too fast.”

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis insisted that it was a simple case of trespassing on private property and that the pair stayed despite repeated warnings by police to move.

“‘We need to get off the railroad tracks,'” Matulis said in his opening statement. “It’s a simple request.” When Auburn police Sgt. Gary Boulet began asking the protesters to leave, their arms stayed locked together.

“He would then tell them they were criminally trespassing,” Matulis said. “Nobody would move. He then would tell them, you’re going to be arrested if you don’t move. And nobody moved. So they were arrested.”


Jurors heard opening arguments and testimony from witnesses for the prosecution and the defense. Closing arguments were scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Spectators to the trials are being given a rare glimpse of a single Androscoggin County Superior Court proceeding with two juries.

One was for Dowling, and one was for Bowen.

During much of Monday’s trials, the juries faced each other on either side of Justice MaryGay Kennedy.

The two juries shared witness testimony and the introduction of video evidence, footage of the arrests filmed by Auburn police.

Opening arguments and brief testimony was presented to individual juries, forcing Matulis to make his opening argument twice.


There was little difference in the cases.

The defenses shared their only witness, Heidi Brugger, a protester from Freedom who was present at the Auburn protest and an earlier one in Fairfield. Both were aimed at trains hauling crude oil. A similar train crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July 2013 and killed nearly 50 people.

At the Fairfield protest, no one was arrested and police waited about 10 minutes for protesters to clear the tracks after threatening arrest, Brugger testified.

Police Sgt. Boulet was questioned longer than anyone.

Though the arrest was filmed by Auburn police, the sound failed to clearly document everything that was said at the scene.

Boulet was heard warning the protesters, ” Hey, you’re going to have to get off the tracks.”

Other parts of the conversation, including his specific threat of arrest and a charge of criminal threatening, were less clear.

During the protest, Boulet said he was following direction from Auburn Police Deputy Chief Jason Moen and a four-page tactical response plan that was prepared prior to the protest. The plan called for the “immediate arrest” of anyone who failed to abide by a police order to leave the tracks, Boulet said.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.