AUBURN — A Lewiston man was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for his role in the murder of 20-year-old Romeo Parent two years ago.

William True, 22, was convicted in December of murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

Murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in Maine. The hindering charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. True was sentenced to 10 years on that conviction, to be served at the same time as his sentence on the murder charge.

True’s attorney, James Howaniec, had filed a motion aimed at dismissing True’s conviction or being granted a new trial.

A one-day hearing on that motion in September featured several co-defendants on the witness stand but was continued to later this month for prosecutors’ rebuttal.

After reaching an agreement with prosecutors on True’s sentence last week, the defense withdrew its motion.


Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman explained her reasoning Tuesday in the sentencing deal.

“The state has always proceeded with Mr. True having a lesser role, still involved in the murder and appropriately convicted of the murder, but to a lesser degree than (co-defendant) Mr. McNaughton,” she said. “And this sentence certainly recognizes that.”

Michael McNaughton, 28, of Lewiston was convicted of murder in Romeo Parent’s slaying six months before True. The two defendants had been scheduled for a single trial in July 2014, with True facing only the hindering charge. However, he was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder on the first day of McNaughton’s murder trial. True went to trial in December, when he was convicted of murder but acquitted of the charge of conspiracy.

McNaughton has not been sentenced. He, like True, challenged his conviction in Androscoggin County Superior Court. That challenge continues.

For True’s part in the sentencing agreement, Howaniec said his client was relieved to have this matter behind him.

“Obviously, we have mixed feelings,” Howaniec said, “but in the end we feel this is a good result for him, after weighing all the pros and cons of the situation.”


The judge agreed Tuesday to the sentence recommended by both parties.

Even if True had been successful in his bid for a new trial, there were many factors to consider. An open sentence on the murder charge could have yielded nearly twice the number of years behind bars, Howaniec reasoned. This way, True could be freed in about 20 years with good behavior, Howaniec said.

Howaniec wrote in his June motion that prosecutors presented three witnesses at trial who committed perjury and that prosecutors knew or should have known their testimony was false.

Howaniec wrote that a DNA analyst who testified at True’s trial about a bloodstain on his pants matching the victim’s blood “had misled the jury” in a case at which she testified five years earlier. The judge in the earlier case determined that a DNA sample from the defendant had been mixed up with samples from two other cases.

During True’s trial, prosecutors presented prejudicial evidence to the jury that suggested True’s footprint had been found at the site of Parent’s murder, despite the trial judge’s removal of the image from evidence that the jury could consider, Howaniec argued.

“The damage caused by this extremely inflammatory photograph had already been done,” Howaniec wrote.


Howaniec wrote that prosecutors attempted to present a transcript of a police interview with True that omitted an exculpatory statement that could have helped True’s case.

“The prosecution’s misconduct in this matter was gross and wanton and deprived Mr. True of a fair trial,” Howaniec wrote. “The defendant’s right to a jury trial was infringed (when a juror was improperly discharged after being seated).”

In her written rebuttal, Cashman argued that True has his facts of the case as well as points of law wrong in his motion.

“Defendant asserts throughout his various memos factually inaccurate and falsely articulated bases as grounds for a new trial,” she wrote. “Because the defendant is incorrect in connection with all of those assertions, both factually and legally, his motion for a new trial should be denied.”

Prosecutors told the jury at trial that True was one of three men who went with the victim to Greene on the night of April 9, 2013. True and McNaughton lured Parent down a path on a dead-end dirt road on the pretense of burglarizing a camp for drugs, prosecutors said.

Once in the woods, Parent was beaten, stabbed with a screwdriver at the base of the skull and fatally strangled with a homemade garrote fashioned from a bicycle wire and wooden dowels.


The next day, Nathan Morton, 26, of Greene, drove True and McNaughton back to the crime scene where True and McNaughton stripped Parent’s body, bound his wrists and ankles and stuffed his body in the trunk of Morton’s 2007 black Volkswagen Passat, prosecutors said. He drove to Jug Stream in Monmouth, where True and McNaughton dumped Parent’s body in the stream near a dam.

Less than a week before Parent’s murder, he and True had committed a burglary together. Parent had told police about True’s involvement. Police arrested True and put him in jail over the weekend of April 6 and 7, 2013, while Parent remained free.

Parent was branded a “snitch” and the rumor circulated that “snitches need stitches,” according to trial testimony. A short time after True was released, Parent was dead.

Morton implicated True in the murder more than a year after the slaying by telling investigators that True was at the scene the night of the murder as well as a day later to dispose of Parent’s body in a stream in Monmouth. Morton said he drove True, McNaughton and Parent to the murder scene the night Parent was killed and drove McNaughton and True back to the scene the next day.

Morton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution in exchange for his trial testimony. A murder charge was dropped. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with half of that time suspended.

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