AUBURN — Prosecutors say a Poland man stabbed his uncle in a drunken rage after knocking over a refrigerator, then fled in his uncle’s car last summer.

The defendant’s attorney says his client was acting in self-defense.

The trial of Phillip Audet, 30, got underway Tuesday as opposing lawyers outlined their respective cases for a jury of eight men and six women in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Audet was charged with (intentional or knowing) elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault, aggravated criminal mischief and unauthorized use of property. He faces up to 30 years in prison on the first charge.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Bogue told the jury Tuesday morning that witnesses for the state would testify at trial that Audet’s uncle, Steven Narbonne, had been drinking with his nephew on July 6 at his house on Torrey Road, Poland. The two later went to a bar until it closed at 1 a.m. They returned to Narbonne’s home, where Audet had been staying.

Bogue said Narbonne is expected to testify that Audet became angry, pushed the refrigerator over, then stabbed Narbonne in the side with a knife.

Narbonne dragged himself across the street to a neighbor’s home, leaving a trail of blood in his wake, then collapsed, she said.

Lying on the floor, Narbonne told his neighbors that Audet had stabbed him. Narbonne was taken to a Lewiston hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Meanwhile, Audet had rifled through belongings in Narbonne’s pickup truck parked outside the home, Bogue said. He fled the scene in Narbonne’s car, then abandoned it on the Maine Turnpike in Gray, where a Maine State Police trooper found it, the engine blown.

County law enforcement authorities used Audet’s cellphone to locate him and Portland police found him hiding in woods in that city, Bogue said.

Investigators found a knife and a sharpening tool on the ground outside Narbonne’s house, she said.

Henry Griffin, Audet’s attorney, told the jury that he agreed the two men had been drinking that day, noting they had a “boatload of booze” even before going to a bar.

Audet is expected to take the witness stand and tell his side of the story, Griffin said.

He will describe returning to Narbonne’s home after closing the bar.

“Yeah, I pushed the fridge over because my crazy, drunken uncle chased me into the house,” Audet is expected to testify, Griffin said. Audet pushed the appliance in an effort to defend himself from Narbonne, Griffin said.

Audet fled in his uncle’s car, not to escape police or the consequences of his actions, but to get away from his uncle who had attacked him, Griffin said.

Griffin urged the jurors to “keep an open mind” throughout the trial.

Pointing to his client, Griffin said: “That man right there is innocent. Factually and legally, he is innocent.”

Before the jury entered the courtroom, Audet pleaded guilty to a charge of violation of condition of release, a misdemeanor. His sentencing on that matter will be held after his trial is over. A charge of (depraved indifference) elevated aggravated assault was dismissed.

The trial is expected to last up to three days.

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