AUBURN — A judge has rejected a bid for a new trial by a Lewiston man convicted last year of two gun-related felonies.

Malik Hollis (Submitted photo)

At a hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court on June 20, Malik Hollis, 22, presented  a witness who testified that on the morning of May 21, 2016, she saw several white men surrounding a young black man, confronted him, yelled at him and swung a pipe at him, according to court records.

One of the white men hit the black man with the pipe, Susan Sharon said during the hearing. Sharon, who works as a reporter and deputy news director for Maine Public radio, said she had been concerned for the black man’s safety and believed “he was going to get the crap beat out of him.”

She called 911 and told the police dispatcher there appeared to be a fight at College and Bartlett streets where a “couple” of guys with pipes were arguing and one of them was swinging a pipe.

The dispatcher took Sharon’s name and indicated police would respond. Within 10 minutes, Sharon heard gunshots, she testified.

She later returned to the scene, approached a police officer and asked whether witnesses were needed.

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Sharon said she was never interviewed by police about what she saw and heard.

Prosecutors provided Hollis’ defense a copy of Sharon’s 911 call and the call log listing her name during the discovery phase of his trial, Justice William Stokes wrote in his decision on Hollis’ motion for a new trial.

A police officer who testified at the June 20 hearing said his department didn’t interview Sharon “based on the totality of the information we had.”

Stokes explained in his decision not to grant Hollis a new trial that he wasn’t convinced Sharon’s testimony would “probably change the result if a new trial” were held.

He wrote that he was not convinced that her testimony was discovered after the trial had concluded, or that “due diligence” on the part of the defense couldn’t have come up with her statement before Hollis’ trial and called her as a witness at the trial.

Stokes wrote that Sharon’s testimony was a part of the whole body of evidence presented to the jury at trial. At best, it may have served to impeach the testimony of one of the men who confronted and assaulted Hollis.

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But Hollis would have needed to show that it is “clear” that Sharon’s testimony would have resulted in a not guilty verdict.

“The court is satisfied that just the opposite is true, namely, that it is clear that Ms. Sharon’s testimony would not have resulted in a different verdict,” Stokes wrote.

Hollis said he was confronted by four white men, all of whom were armed. Two of the men assaulted him. They called him racial slurs and chased him down the street to his apartment building, according to testimony at the trial.

Police said Hollis fired shots in the direction of several men. Officers found two spent shell casings from a .380-caliber pistol on the street, where witnesses said the shooting occurred. Hollis claimed he was acting in self-defense.

“The central issue in the trial of this case was whether the state could disprove the defendant’s claim of self-defense by showing that the defendant had successfully retreated to the safety of the apartment he was staying in and then voluntarily returned to the scene of the altercation armed with a gun, which he discharged multiple times,” Stokes wrote. “Ms. Sharon’s testimony would not have addressed that central issue and it’s highly unlikely that her evidence would have changed the result of the trial.”

Hollis was found guilty of reckless conduct with a firearm and criminal threatening with a firearm, both felonies. He is serving a three-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

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