AUBURN — A jury on Tuesday acquitted a local man of a hate crime stemming from a 2013 road rage incident that prosecutors had argued was racially motivated.

Adam Getchell, 32, was found not guilty of intentional interference with civil rights, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

An all-white jury of seven women and five men deliberated for five hours before returning a guilty verdict of driving to endanger against Getchell, of Auburn. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail. Sentencing is expected soon.

The jury deadlocked on two felony charges of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated criminal mischief. Each was punishable by up to five years in prison.

Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Lance Walker asked each juror whether the jury was unable to reach a verdict on those charges. Each confirmed there was no hope of resolving the impasse.

The one-and-a-half-day trial included testimony from the victim, Matthew Wooten Jr., then 19, of Auburn, an Auburn police officer and Androscoggin County’s deputy district attorney, who served as a key witness for the prosecution.


The defense presented a single witness Tuesday: Getchell’s live-in girlfriend, who has a child with him and is pregnant with a second. Courtney Flaherty testified that Getchell, the man she has known for nearly five years, has never uttered a slur against black people in her presence and, in fact, has black friends.

After listening to a brief audio clip from a police cruiser recording of her boyfriend spewing racial invective, Flaherty told Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin that she doesn’t allow that language in her home because she doesn’t want her children to hear it.

Asked if she ever witnessed Getchell repeatedly stomping on the brakes, then speeding up suddenly, Flaherty said she didn’t like being in a vehicle where that type of driving takes place.

Getchell told police in the cruiser’s camcorder video from July 11, 2013, that he had been the victim in the incident.

In a roughly half-hour audio recording taken from an Auburn Police Department cruiser, Getchell, handcuffed in the back seat, indulged in a tirade peppered with racial epithets, leading the Maine Attorney General’s Office to charge him with the hate crime of intentional interference with civil rights.

But the jury appeared to conclude that Getchell’s cruiser ramblings didn’t match his state of mind while behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck a half-hour earlier when he appeared to have blocked a man of mixed race driving an Audi sedan from passing him. When the Audi driver, identified as Wooten, passed Getchell, he apparently swerved at Wooten’s car and hit the rear fender. 


Matthew Libby, Getchell’s attorney, said he and his client were pleased with the verdicts.

“At the very beginning of this trial, I asked the jury to be thoughtful about how they processed the information and the facts that would come into evidence and this verdict is evidence that they did so,” he said.

“I asked the jury not to allow their emotions to cloud their ability to apply the facts of this case to the law in a neutral manner and the fact that they found him not guilty on the racial count and guilty on the driving to endanger count shows that they were able to separate that out,” he said.

Libby said the jury could easily have been swayed by Getchell’s language during his diatribe in the cruiser and could have judged him prematurely.

“I’m glad they didn’t do that,” he said.

His client “does not condone any of the words he used,” Libby said. “He never did. In fact, he regrets the words he used. But we always believed from day one that a crime was never committed here in regards to the words that were used here. I think that’s important.”


Robbin said she was disappointed the jury wasn’t able to reach verdicts on all four of the charges.

“Clearly, he was driving to endanger and some jurors were convinced that he engaged in the felony conduct,” Robbin said.

She plans to pursue a civil injunction that would prevent Getchell from having contact with Wooten.

Robbin said she’s never encountered a partial deadlocked jury and must investigate whether retrying the two felonies would constitute double jeopardy because the underlying facts of those charges resulted in verdicts on two counts on Tuesday.

On the first day of the trial, local police Officer Brian Parker testified that he witnessed Getchell chasing Wooten’s red Audi on foot through the parking lot of George’s Pizza on Center Street on the evening of July 11, 2013. Getchell was wielding a wooden billy club that Parker ordered him to drop.

Parker arrested Getchell at the scene on a charge of criminal threatening.


Wooten testified that the road rage incident started in Lewiston and continued across the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge into Auburn.

Deputy District Attorney James Andrews, who was driving his pickup truck directly behind Wooten’s car on the evening of July 11, 2013, described a green pickup truck, later identified as Getchell’s, that cut in front of Wooten’s Audi in the left turning lane on East Avenue in Lewiston, shortly before the intersection with Russell Street.

Andrews said the truck sped up, then stopped abruptly about half a dozen times along Russell Street. At one point, the truck appeared to be backing up in the direction of the Audi, Andrews said.

The truck would straddle the two lanes in an apparent effort to prevent the Audi from passing, he said.

Andrews said he could see the driver of the truck gesturing with his hands after slamming on his brakes, but he never saw the Audi’s operator use hand gestures.

Once on the bridge, Andrews said both vehicles took off at a high rate of speed when the red car attempted to pass the truck. As the car passed in the right lane, the truck veered in the direction of the car and the car appeared to lose control, its rear wheels skidding, Andrews said.


Andrews asked his son, who was a passenger, to write down the truck’s license plate number. Andrews called 911 and reported the “very dangerous situation” he had witnessed.

He testified that Getchell was “not driving in a rational manner.”

The jury also listened to Wooten’s 911 call, in which he reported that Getchell’s truck had struck his car when Getchell swerved into Wooten’s lane, causing him to hit his head.

Wooten said he stayed on his cellphone with the dispatcher, who urged him not to follow Getchell’s truck. When Wooten did follow Getchell into the parking lot of George’s Pizza on Center Street, the dispatcher told Wooten to stay in his car and to roll up his windows. Wooten said he did.

The jury had asked the court to play back the recording of Andrews’ 911 call and to read back Andrews’ entire testimony from Monday.

Libby had sought during pretrial hearings to have the racial charge tried separately from the road rage charges. He also had filed a motion aimed at blocking the cruiser’s camcorder recording from being played at trial.

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