AUBURN — A judge sentenced a Massachusetts man Wednesday to 33 months in prison on charges stemming from a shooting in downtown Lewiston last year.

Nathaniel Ashwood Lewiston Police Department

Police arrested Nathaniel D. Ashwood, 33, of Springfield, Massachusetts, on June 12, 2020, after he fired shots at a woman on Bartlett Street.

Ashwood was charged with attempted murder and robbery, each felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

He was poised to go to trial Monday when he accepted a plea agreement from prosecutors who offered to dismiss those charges.

Ashwood pleaded no contest Monday to two lesser charges of reckless conduct with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, each felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors had capped his possible sentence at 3½ years, but Ashwood was allowed to argue for less time behind bars, which his attorney, Verne Paradie, did on Wednesday.

Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II settled on a sentence of 33 months with no probation to follow.

Ashwood has spent 18 months at Androscoggin County Jail awaiting trial. That time will be subtracted from his sentence.

Stewart last month denied Ashwood’s motion to dismiss the charges because he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Prosecutors said they offered the plea agreement because of possible issues with witnesses at trial.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Matulis has said after the plea hearing Monday that the woman at whom Ashwood had fired shots and the prosecution’s main witnesses were subpoenaed to trial, but Matulis said he wasn’t confident they would attend court or testify to the events that led to the more serious charges. He said that had been the “driving force” behind the plea agreement.

On Wednesday, Matulis played city street surveillance videos for the judge. On that footage, Ashwood could be seen leaving a variety store and walking with a woman past a group of people. He turned and walked back to a woman, pulled an object from his pants, which witnesses told police was a gun that he then pointed at the woman’s head.

The gun apparently only clicked when he pulled the trigger, witnesses said.

Ashwood fled down Bartlett Street, firing shots behind him as he ran.

Police recovered a 9 mm Ruger handgun that later tested positive for Ashwood’s DNA. Nine empty shell casings were recovered from the street along the path he fled. They matched the markings made by that gun, Matulis said.

Police also found a hat and sunglasses with his DNA that matched those worn by the suspect in the videos.

Stewart said it would be difficult to craft a sentence with probation not knowing why the incident took place.

“So, we’re really just left with trying to fashion a sentence that appropriately punishes and hope that that deterrent effect will have some rehabilitative effect,” he said.

Although the woman at whom Ashwood fired shots didn’t testify about the effect the incident had on her, Stewart said, “one can also infer simply by watching the video and the reaction that (the victim) had, that this was an extremely frightened woman. And in addition to that, you have that subjective impact upon everyone in that community, everyone in that neighborhood who heard and witnessed the firing of these shots.”

Stewart said people in the area may now be on “further notice that this is not a safe neighborhood. It’s not an area where they can go and enjoy their neighborhood or simply enjoy their lives.”

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