AUGUSTA — Gage Dalphonse’s defense lawyers sought Monday to show he had acted in self-defense when he shot Jean Fournier twice in the back at the Auburn Walmart parking lot in 2019.

This strategy involved calling an expert witness and Dalphonse’s father.

Gage Dalphonse, 23, of Auburn listens last Wednesday as lawyers make opening statements at the start of his murder trial at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Daniel Dalphonse took the witness stand to testify in his 23-year-old son’s murder trial. He came equipped with visual aids, including a video of him firing his son’s Glock handgun from the driver’s seat of his car.

The defense suggested this demonstration shows the gun was fired from inside the car. Also included with the visual aids were illustrated photographs that purported to show the trajectory of the bullets, as presented by state investigators, which the defense said showed Fournier must have still been next to Dalphonse’s driver’s side door when the shooting occurred.

The defense team’s expert witness, Marc Dupre, is a forensic scientist and co-owner of a New Hampshire  forensic consulting and training service. He worked more than 20 years as a forensic scientist for New Hampshire State Police, including as supervisor of the evidence control unit before leaving to become a consultant.

Dupre testified his review of the evidence, including reports from Maine State Police investigators, the autopsy report and the Walmart security videos, indicated at least the first shot occurred when Fournier, 41, was right outside Dalphonse’s driver’s side window.

Dupre testified if the state’s findings that Fournier suffered paralysis from the first shot is accurate, then the second shot came as Fournier was at the rear of the car, near where he collapsed. If those findings are disregarded, he said the other evidence indicates Fournier was shot closer to the driver’s side window.

Dupre said his review of the evidence, including an analysis of the trajectory of the first bullet shot into Fournier, would be consistent with testimony from Dalphonse’s best friend and passenger that day, Defghan Zitsch, that Fournier was reaching into the car and trying to open the door.

“This positioning (by the driver’s door), I’d suggest, is a lot more in line with what actually occurred, from the trajectory,” Dupre said.

State investigators testified previously they believed Fournier of Turner was shot when he was already running away from the car, to the rear of the vehicle. They said one of the bullets that struck Fournier damaged his spinal cord, which would have caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down.

That injury would mean when Fournier was running from the car, the bullet had not hit him yet, and, thus, Dalphonse had shot Fournier as he was running away.

Fournier’s location when he was shot is key because the defense has acknowledged that Dalphonse of Auburn shot Fournier, but claims he did so in self-defense.

Video from Walmart security cameras shows Fournier running away from beside Dalphonse’s driver’s side window and getting two or three steps from the rear of the car before he crumpled to the pavement, with two bullet wounds in his back.

Dalphonse told witnesses who asked why he shot Fournier, “He shouldn’t have punched me in the face,” and sought to convince onlookers he acted in self-defense, according to Nicholas Gallant, a witness who was with his family leaving Walmart after buying a DVD the evening of the shooting.

“He was kind of smiling. I hate to say it, but he was almost smiling, like he was satisfied. You know what I mean?” Gallant, a witness for the state, testified of his brief interaction with Dalphonse after the shooting and before police arrived. “I asked (Dalphonse) why he shot him in the back. He told me, ‘He shouldn’t have punched me in the face.'”

Another witness repeated that Dalphonse had said Fournier should not have punched him in the face. But Christopher Morris, a witness for the defense, said Dalphonse seemed shocked and stunned, not satisfied or smiling, after the shooting. Morris said Dalphonse did not have a shirt on when the two talked because he had taken it off so it could be used to apply pressure to try to stop Fournier from bleeding.

Dalphonse’s father testified when his son’s car, a 2017 Volkswagen GTI, was returned to the family by police about three weeks after the shooting, he was shocked to see a bullet casing on a floor mat.

Dupre testified that the way the Glock ejected its bullet casings made it likely the gun was fired from inside the car. And if the gun were fired outside the car, the casing would have been found outside and toward the front of the car.

Police said one bullet casing was found in the parking lot next to the car and the other on the driver’s side floor mat.

But Detective Sgt. Scott Bryant, evidence response team commander for the Maine State Police at the state crime laboratory, said ejection patterns are inconsistent and are not a reliable indicator of where a gun was fired.

The shooting followed a chance encounter at the Walmart parking lot on the evening of July 27, 2019, according to reports. With his friend as a passenger, Dalphonse was driving through the parking lot and saw Fournier’s girlfriend, Tara Nguyen.

The two, who had worked together at an area nursing home, had a dispute. They exchanged insults in the store parking lot as Dalphonse drove along. Fournier, whom Dalphonse did not know, followed Dalphonse’s car, which pulled into a parking space.

Fournier approached the car and demanded Dalphonse apologize to Nguyen. When Dalphonse refused, Fournier punched him while Dalphonse was sitting at the wheel. Dalphonse then pulled out a gun, shooting Fournier twice in the back.

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