AUBURN — A judge said the trial of a local man accused of racially based road rage scheduled for later this month would be continued after that man’s attorney filed a motion Tuesday to separate the road rage charges from the racial bias charge.

Defense attorney Matthew Libby told Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy on Tuesday that he had prepared a motion to sever the criminal charges against his client, Adam Getchell, 31, of 224 Lane Road, and also was “likely” to file a motion to have the bias charge dismissed. Libby’s motion likely will be heard next month, with a trial date possibly in March.

Getchell, in the aftermath of a July 11, 2013, incident, was charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated criminal mischief, each punishable by up to five years in prison. A charge of driving to endanger is punishable by up to six months in jail.

He also was indicted on a charge of intentional interference with civil rights, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail. Libby argued in judge’s chambers that he was seeking to keep that charge from being presented to the same jury that would hear the other three charges at trial.

At a hearing Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin argued in favor of her motion aimed at allowing into evidence at Getchell’s trial racially charged statements he made following his arrest in the road-rage incident while he sat in a police cruiser and that were captured by the cruiser’s recording system.

Kennedy said she wouldn’t allow at trial a portion of Getchell’s “long tirade” that was laced with racial epithets, reasoning the “despicable rant” would be prejudicial. Other portions of Getchell’s statements, specifically those addressing the incident that were captured on the cruiser’s camcorder would be allowed, Kennedy said. Some racially charged statements made to the arresting officer may be allowed at trial, but Kennedy said she would rule on them individually at trial as prosecutors presented their case.

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When questioned by Kennedy about what triggered the road-rage incident, Robbin said the state had no other explanation for Getchell’s behavior than racial bias. She said the defendant’s comments after his arrest indicate he harbored a racial bias that affected his actions while he was driving that contributed to his anger.

“I think that’s fair game for the jury to weigh,” she said, urging Kennedy not to “sanitize” for the jury what Getchell had said.

While Getchell’s statements after his arrest were “regrettable,” they are “not indicative that he broke the law,” Libby said. “You can’t punish obnoxious language.”

Many people say inappropriate things when upset, he said.

According to prosecutors, Getchell drove a pickup truck on July 11, 2013, in front of a car driven by then-19-year-old Matthew Wooten on East Avenue in Lewiston on his way home.

Getchell sped past Wooten, then cut in front of his car repeatedly, according to a civil complaint filed by the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

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The two continued over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge toward Auburn. Getchell pulled alongside Wooten and began throwing things, including what appeared to be tools and a bottle of perfume at Wooten, the complaint stated.

As Wooten attempted to pass to the right of Getchell, Getchell drove his truck into Wooten’s car, hitting it at the rear of the driver’s side. Wooten struck his head from the impact.

Wooten called 911 on his cellphone and followed Getchell into a parking lot on Center Street. Getchell got out of his truck carrying a club and yelled, “I’ll fight you, n—–!” and used other racial epithets, the complaint said.

Getchell beat the front and trunk of Wooten’s car with the club. A police officer appeared as Getchell brandished the club. Getchell said Wooten had confronted him and he was trying to defend himself. He continued to use racial slurs as he spoke with the officer, the complaint said. He was arrested and taken away in a cruiser.

Wooten told police Getchell mouthed: “I’m going to kill you,” as he was driven away.

Prosecutors were seeking a civil injunction against Getchell to prevent him from having any contact with Wooten.

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