A Portland man has pleaded not guilty to murder in his neighbor’s death, and a newly unsealed police affidavit reveals little about what might have caused a dispute between the two men.

Everett Meserve, 62, appeared at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Monday morning. Police have accused him of beating 63-year-old Rodney Cleveland to death in their apartment building on Danforth Street. Meserve was originally arrested and charged with elevated aggravated assault in connection with the Aug. 3 incident. Then Cleveland died from his injuries Sept. 15, and a grand jury indicted Meserve days later on the murder charge.

The arraignment lasted only minutes. Meserve is being held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail. The indictment alleges that Meserve intentionally or knowingly caused Cleveland’s death, or that he caused Cleveland’s death by acting with a depraved indifference to the value of human life.

“Yes, I do understand the charge,” Meserve told Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy.

A police affidavit was kept confidential for weeks while Cleveland was in the hospital, but it was recently unsealed.

Portland Det. Andrew Hagerty responded on Aug. 3 to a building at the corner of Danforth and High streets, which houses people over the age of 55 in one-bedroom and efficiency apartments. His affidavit states that Beatrix Manoe reported at 4 p.m. to that she had arrived at Cleveland’s apartment to find him severely beaten. Manoe was his wife but did not live with him, Hagerty wrote. He described the injuries as “massive trauma to Cleveland’s face and head.”

While police officers gathered video footage from nearby surveillance cameras, Meserve approached police to say, unprompted, “I didn’t do it.”

The surveillance video showed that another resident on the floor entered the apartment for 10 minutes before 7:30 a.m. He had been asked by the building management to check on Cleveland, and later told police that Cleveland was “extremely drunk.” The resident also said Cleveland was upset with Meserve because he thought Meserve had looked at eviction notice paperwork that had been posted on Cleveland’s door the day before. Meserve lived across the hall from Cleveland, the affidavit states.

An hour later, Meserve appeared on the video footage, empty-handed and wearing only camouflage pants. Another hour passed, and the camera caught footage of Meserve leaving the apartment with an unknown object in his hand and walking back to his own apartment.

At 11 a.m., another resident knocked on the door, opened it without entering and yelled to see if Cleveland was OK. Hagerty wrote that the woman was intoxicated and not coherent when she talked to police about that conversation, but she said Cleveland told her he was OK. No one else entered the apartment until Cleveland’s wife arrived that afternoon. Investigators at the apartment later found blood spatters and possible hair on a frying pan in the living room.

The affidavit states police noticed what appeared to be dried blood on Meserve’s face, fingers and pants. He agreed to come to the police headquarters, where an evidence technician tested the stains on his hands. Meserve then told police he was “blackout” drunk earlier in the morning, and he couldn’t remember fighting with Cleveland but said they probably did. He said it was possible that he had Cleveland’s blood on his hands and would not elaborate, and he told police he left his neighbor’s apartment with a sandwich. Then he refused to answer more questions. Police arrested him on the initial elevated aggravated assault charge and took him to the jail.

Hagerty also wrote in the affidavit he later attended the autopsy, and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum said he believed blunt force trauma to Cleveland’s head caused his death.

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