Michael McNaughton, pictured on a closed-circuit TV monitor in an Androscoggin County Superior Courtroom Wednesday, speaks to a judge while Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell, left, looks on.  Sun Journal photo by Christopher Williams

AUBURN — A Lewiston man convicted in the brutal 2013 slaying of 20-year-old Romeo Parent is seeking a new trial, claiming his lawyers were incompetent.

Michael McNaughton at Androscoggin County Superior Court after the jury convicted him in July 2014 of murder and hindering apprehension in the 2013 death of Romeo Parent of Lewiston. Sun Journal file photo

In 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected an appeal of his conviction.

Parent, a Lewiston resident, was stabbed and strangled to death by McNaughton. Parent’s body later was stripped of clothing, bound and dumped in a Monmouth stream.

McNaughton filed a petition for post-conviction review claiming his constitutional rights were violated on nearly a dozen grounds during trial and for appeal because the attorneys representing him were ineffective.

Among his claims, McNaughton wrote that his trial attorney should have hired an expert to help prove through enhanced audio that he had exercised his Miranda rights during the early part of a taped interview with a police detective.

McNaughton also wrote that the prosecutor at trial had made a “variety of misleading and false statements” during closing arguments to which the defense attorney should have objected or failed to “ask the court to instruct the jury at the time this occurred despite (McNaughton’s) multiple requests that he do so.”

He wrote in his petition that he asked his trial attorney to block from being impaneled a prospective juror who was taking antipsychotic medication. His attorney failed to challenge selection of that juror, McNaughton wrote, “thus denying (him) a right to a fair and impartial jury of his choosing.”

A transcript provided by the court to jurors in an effort to help them follow along during the playing of his taped interview with police included an erroneous reference to “kiddie porn.” McNaughton’s trial attorney made “no effort” to correct the transcript, he wrote in his petition. “The jury should never have been exposed to this type of error and the obviously detrimental impact such statements can have on jurors,” he wrote.

McNaughton wrote that his attorney failed to enlist the aid of a “footwear/footprint” expert “to refute the state’s expert who testified at trial that a footprint outlined by investigating officers was not, in fact, a footprint.”

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin responded in her written brief that the state’s footprint expert “never conducted a footprint analysis because there was not sufficient detail in the impression to actually do a comparison.'”

McNaughton wrote in his petition that his trial lawyer failed to have independently tested a human hair that was sent to the Maine Crime Lab “which defendant asserts would result in exculpatory evidence on his behalf.”

Robbin responded in her brief that McNaughton’s claim “should be dismissed” because it lacks specificity.

McNaughton wrote that his attorney should have sought a change of venue for his trial, but failed to “despite repeated requests by defendant to do so,” citing “substantial coverage of the homicide at the time of the incident as well as afterward.”

On Wednesday, McNaughton, who is incarcerated at the Maine State Prison in Warren, appeared on a video monitor in Androscoggin County Superior Court to argue his motion seeking to have his trial judge, Justice MaryGay Kennedy, excuse herself from presiding over the post-conviction review process.

In his motion, he wrote that: “The judge, who tried the case, cannot evaluate the relative merits of his or her own alleged errors in a neutral way.”

Kennedy concluded that she would be able to preside over his review.

“I see no reason at this point to recuse myself,” she said.

A hearing is scheduled for next month to hear testimony on McNaughton’s petition.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: