LEWISTON — A judge ruled Monday there was enough evidence to support a murder charge against an Auburn man in a June 3 stabbing and ordered him held without bail.

Bryan Peabody of Auburn, center of screen, watches a monitor while listening to his lawyer, James Howaniec, second from right in the bottom row of photos, from the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on Monday afternoon. Others involved in the videoconference are seen from their offices or workplace. The closed-circuit video screen is in 8th District Court in Lewiston where Judge Valerie Stanfill presided and ruled that Peabody be held without bail. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Bryan Peabody, 25, of 116 Hampshire St., Auburn, participated in the hearing from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn by videoconference.

Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis told Justice Valerie Stanfill that police interviewed four witnesses who supported the charge against Peabody in the slaying of Lawrence Kilkenny, 48, of Lewiston on the night of June 3 outside Peabody’s apartment.

Ellis said witnesses told police the two men had a disagreement, that “Mr. Kilkenny wasn’t doing anything physical” and that “Mr. Peabody snapped and started attacking him for no apparent reason.”

Ellis said there was information suggesting that Kilkenny “wasn’t even actively defending himself” against the attack.

The prosecutor said Kilkenny sustained about 20 slashing or puncture wounds, including two in the back that punctured a lung, resulting in a fatal loss of blood.

Defense attorney James Howaniec told the judge that at least one of the witnesses had given a statement to police indicating that it was Peabody who had been injured and had retreated into his apartment. He said there was evidence that a second knife had been involved in the incident, “which is not Mr. Peabody’s knife. And we would submit it is most likely the knife of Lawrence Kilkenny. And that would obviously raise some questions about self-defense in this case.”

Howaniec said there were inconsistencies in the witnesses statements and they had admitted to police to having been intoxicated.

“That’s the type of evidence the state is relying upon in this case,” he said.

Moreover, Howaniec said some of the evidence suggests a hate crime may have been committed against Peabody at the time of the incident.

Ellis noted Peabody had been convicted in 2015 of assault and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, involving a knife.

“From our point of view, with this vicious attack, with a knife again, we ask that he be held without bail pending trial,” Ellis told the judge.

Howaniec said conviction had involved self-defense and had been pleaded down from a higher level crime charged.

Because a murder charge must be presented to a grand jury for indictment before the case can proceed to trial, Ellis said he planned to take Peabody’s case to a grand jury in July.

Justice Valerie Stanfill, left, listens to a closed circuit video conference with Bryan Peabody on a video screen in 8th District Court in Lewiston Monday afternoon. Peabody was in jail participating as well as his lawyer, state police detectives and prosecutors all doing the same from remote sites. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court had suspended convening grand juries and trial juries in March due to the pandemic and has not yet lifted that suspension.

An affidavit detailing the case in support of Peabody’s arrest on a charge of intentional or knowing murder was impounded by the judge and isn’t expected to be released to the public until after a grand jury has heard the case.

Maine State Police Detective Jennifer King was the only witness called to testify at the hour-and-a-half-long hearing. She said she is the lead detective in the case.

King said during the videoconference that one of the witnesses described the scene to police when “Bryan just suddenly snapped on Lawrence Kilkenny and started fighting with Lawrence, dragged him from one side of the driveway to the other and then she realized that Lawrence had been stabbed.”

King said the witness told police she didn’t know why Peabody had “snapped.”

King testified the witness said Peabody had been under a lot of stress because he recently had difficulties in a romantic relationship.

The witness told police Peabody had later texted her to say he had “melted” his knife, King said.

She said a quarter found in the driveway of the apartment building had a reddish brown stain, suspected to be blood, next to a yellow knife that may also have had a reddish brown stain on it. Both items were collected as evidence for analysis, King said.

Police searched an area near the Androscoggin River for a knife Peabody may have used, but no knife was recovered, King said.

On cross-examination by Howaniec, King said one of the witnesses who lived at that apartment building and saw the incident from her window described it as a “fight.” Another witness said he had broken up a fight between the defendant and victim by pushing them apart.

Under questioning from Howaniec, King confirmed injuries to Peabody’s fingers and forearms.

Attorneys in the case are scheduled to meet with the judge in August to discuss the status of the case.


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