A Lewiston man convicted of murder in the 2013 slaying of 21-year-old Romeo Parent lost his bid for a new trial Thursday.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction of William True, who was found guilty in December 2014 of murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution and sentenced by Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy to 25 years in prison.

After the guilty verdict, True filed an appeal with the court seeking a new trial.

James Howaniec, True’s attorney, argued in his motion in Androscoggin County Superior Court that key state witnesses had lied while giving testimony on the stand that resulted in denying True his constitutional right to a fair trial.

Before Kennedy had ruled on that motion, however, Howaniec had withdrawn it and True was sentenced to 25 years in prison on the recommendation of prosecutors.

Murder is punishable in Maine by 25 years to life in prison.


True later told Howaniec he wanted to pursue a new trial after all. Sixteen days after his sentencing, True filed a notice of appeal to the state’s highest court.

“We truly believe that William True is innocent,” Howaniec told the high court justices during oral arguments on Sept. 13 at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

Speaking for the high court in its published opinion Thursday, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote that witnesses had given inconsistent testimony at True’s trial.

“True has not, however, demonstrated that any particular testimony about the events was perjured, much less that any perjured testimony contributed to the jury’s verdict,” Saufley wrote. “The jury could take into account that the trial was held more than a year after the murder and that many witnesses were admittedly under the influence of drugs — or suffering withdrawal symptoms — when the events took place.”

Other testimony and physical evidence was presented at True’s trial that corroborated the testimony of those three witnesses, lending credibility to their statements and leading the jury to rationally find True guilty of the crimes with which he was charged, Saufley wrote.

“On the available record, True has presented no basis to vacate the judgment of conviction because it is impossible to conclude as a matter of law that perjured testimony was admitted and contributed to the jury’s verdict,” Saufley concluded.


Howaniec had focused his motion to vacate True’s conviction largely on the statements and testimony of Nathan Morton, 27, of Greene.

Morton had implicated True in the murder more than a year after the April 8, 2013, slaying by telling investigators 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, Michael McNaughton, 29, of Lewiston and Parent to the murder scene the night Parent was killed, and then drove McNaughton and True back to the scene the next day to move the body.

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.

Howaniec told the high court in September that it was during Morton’s 11th interview with investigators that he put True at the murder scene. Howaniec said Morton “had lied literally hundreds of times to the state police.”

Justices of the high court had questioned during oral arguments on the appeal why True would have given up his bid for a new trial in Androscoggin County Superior Court only to pursue an appeal after getting a minimum sentence.

Howaniec said the decision to accept the state’s offer on sentencing had been aimed at “managing risk.”


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