Lt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit tells the Lewiston City Council on Tuesday evening the investigation into the Donald Giusti homicide is open and active. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — The investigation into the death of Donald Giusti in June is “still very much open and active,” with potentially crucial electronic evidence still being analyzed, Maine State Police investigators said Tuesday night.

Lt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit told the City Council on Tuesday the current pace of the investigation has slowed as investigators analyze evidence that has been gathered, as well as evidence that has been sent out for testing.

“We’re waiting for data to come back, for instance, on a lot of electronic evidence that we collected, which could be some of the key evidence in this case,” Holmquist said.

The update from state police was the first since mid-July, when law enforcement said the complexity of the case, with a number of juveniles and teenagers involved, was extending its duration.

Giusti, 38, died from injuries sustained in a June 12 altercation on Knox Street near Kennedy Park, where witnesses have said he was badly beaten as two groups clashed. A Lewiston police officer told the Sun Journal recently that there were roughly 100 people surrounding the scene when police arrived.

The violent incident, along with the fatal stabbing of Kimberly Dobbie, 48, on July 15 and a number of drug-related shootings, have perpetuated tension in downtown Lewiston this summer.

Holmquist said Tuesday that as part of the Giusti investigation, police spent three weeks knocking on doors, conducting interviews, and collecting evidence in Lewiston.

He said law enforcement has put “a lot of hours into this case, more so likely than any case that I can remember for the last several years.”

“As far as a timetable, I can’t provide one,” Holmquist said Tuesday. “It’s definitely going to take a little more work to get where we need to go, but I’m confident we will get there.”

Holmquist added that he “appreciates citizens’ patience” as well as cooperation from Lewiston police. He said state police worked “shoulder to shoulder with Lewiston detectives for three weeks straight, and “without their support we definitely would not be as far ahead in this investigation.”

Lewiston Police Chief Brian O’Malley said he’s confident that local police are “making some progress” following the string of incidents this summer. While the high-profile incidents have been frightening for residents, he said, major crimes are down for the year.

He said he asked state police to give the update Tuesday due to concerns from residents.

He said the department is conducting “saturation patrols” with state police focused on drug-related crime, and has put additional officers on patrols in the neighborhood surrounding Kennedy Park during nighttime hours. Police have said drug-related crime is causing the bulk of violent incidents.

The last of the additional security cameras are still slated to be installed downtown, he said.

On top of the police presence, he reminded residents of the “Peace in the Park” initiative, which will put “community safety volunteers” trained in de-escalation techniques in Kennedy Park.

Following the update Tuesday, the City Council offered no questions to Holmquist, however Mayor Shane Bouchard asked O’Malley what councilors could do to assist the city as the investigation continues.

Bouchard said elected officials have been “continually beat up by folks asking what we’re doing and what we can do.”

O’Malley said the authorization to hire overtime officers has helped, and he said he’s confident that police staff shortages will turn around as more officers return from injury and training.

Lewiston resident Pauline Gudas said elected officials should be doing more to engage with constituents following the violence this summer.

“Have one of you held a neighborhood meeting asking residents of your area what they would like to see, what they’re afraid of?” she said.

She said every member of the council should do a ride-along with Lewiston police, which are currently working without a contract. (An executive session for contract negotiations was held after the meeting Tuesday.)

District Attorney Andrew Robinson gives the Lewiston City Council an open invitation on Tuesday to discuss how cases are handled once they have left the Lewiston Police Department’s hands. Robinson was referring to the number of crime cases that have attracted attention in the downtown this summer. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Andrew Robinson, district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, also spoke Tuesday, offering more communication with elected officials over his office’s process once a case moves from law enforcement to the criminal justice system.

Councilor Michael Marcotte said he’s interested in a “sit-down” with the DA’s office in regard to concerns over cases that end up appearing as “catch and release.”

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Lewiston police officers gather outside City Hall shortly before the City Council meeting Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

The City Council unanimously approved entering into an option agreement to purchase a 10-acre parcel at 55 North Temple St. for building a new Sabattus Street fire substation.

The property was recently appraised at about $290,000, and has been recommended by an engineering firm working with the city as the best option for the fire station.

The $3.3 million city project would be the first in a series of planned replacements for the Lewiston Fire Department’s substations on Lisbon Road and Sabattus and Main streets. The stations were built between 1950-52, and evaluations have shown the buildings to be “inadequate for today’s fire needs.”

The council voted 6-1 to extend an option agreement with a developer for the purchase of 188 Lincoln St. by two months.

The building, a former fire substation, was slated for demolition until a developer purchased the property with plans of rehabbing into a restaurant, with Portland Pie Co. initially announced as the tenant. The developer requested the 60 day extension “to finalize the tenant lease and financing.”

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