AUBURN — A judge on Friday heard arguments in the case of a Lewiston man charged with murder who is seeking to introduce at trial his girlfriend as an alternative suspect in the fatal shooting of the mother of his child.

Jaquille Coleman Submitted photo

Jaquille Jakeem Coleman, 28, is charged with the intentional or knowing murder of 19-year-old Natasha Morgan on Aug. 21, 2020.

Morgan died from two gunshot wounds to her chest that were inflicted in the driveway of her Scribner Boulevard home in Lewiston.

Coleman’s trial is set to start Nov. 14 in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

On Friday, Justice Thomas McKeon heard arguments on pretrial motions filed by the defense and prosecutors.

Most of the motions he took under advisement and plans to rule on prior to the trial.


After the shooting, Coleman fled the state and, after borrowing a camper from friends in Vermont, drove to Mississippi with his girlfriend Emily Staples, because he had apparently been in a relationship with Morgan and Staples at the same time, they said.

Defense attorney Verne Paradie said Staples had been jealous of Morgan and could have been the one who shot her.

He said two female witnesses in Mississippi said Staples had told them she’d been forced at gunpoint to witness the shooting, then accompany Coleman as he fled the state.

Paradie said the witnesses’ statements suggest Staples had been at the scene of the shooting and had motive to harm Morgan.

Justice McKeon said the statement Staples gave to the witnesses was hearsay and couldn’t be presented at trial. He said defense attorneys may not mention any alternative suspects unless evidence is presented at trial that provides a necessary foundation to support that theory.

Paradie said he’d subpoenaed the two women to testify in person at trial.


Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam said the two women said making the trip from Mississippi to Maine would create a hardship for them, but they were willing to testify remotely by videoconference.

McKeon said he was reluctant to require them to be in the courtroom in person under the circumstances.

Paradie said phone conversations between himself and his client had been overheard by a Maine State Police detective who had been lead investigator on the case.

Elam said recordings of the calls were turned over to the detective along with other calls made by Coleman from the Androscoggin County Jail.

All calls made by inmates are recorded by an outside contractor and are made available to law enforcement, except when a defense attorney has provided his or her phone number to the jail. In cases where the inmate is calling the phone number of a defense attorney that’s on file, the phone system is not supposed to record the call.

Paradie said he’d been unaware of the requirement that he register his phone number with the jail.


Elam said that when the detective started listening to the privileged phone conversation between Coleman and Paradie, she immediately stopped the recording and made Elam aware of the recording. Elam said she emailed Paradie to alert him to the issue.

Paradie asked Elam to provide the exact dates and times of the overheard phone calls with a record of exactly what information was overheard.

He said he didn’t blame the jail nor the detective for the apparent breach of confidentiality.

Elam told the judge that ascertaining the exact dates and times of the compromised call would require listening again to the privileged conversations.

McKeon didn’t make a ruling on that issue Friday.

Prosecutors are seeking to introduce at trial the fact that Morgan had talked with others about filing for a protection from abuse order against Coleman because she was afraid of him, even coming up with a so-called “safe word” she could use if she were in a dangerous situation and needed to signal she needed help.

Neighbors reported hearing three to five shots ring out in front of a home at 175 Scribner Blvd. in the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2020. The gunshots were followed by the scream of a woman, witnesses said.

When police and rescue crews arrived moments later, Morgan, mother of Coleman’s baby girl, was found on the ground near the driveway.

Morgan’s mother, Liza Morgan, told police she witnessed the shooting.

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