The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the murder conviction and sentence of a Massachusetts man who shot another man nine times during a 2016 drug deal gone awry.

In a 12-page opinion issued Thursday, the justices upheld a lower court decision that found Marcus Asante of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, guilty of murder and robbery in connection with the 2016 death of 31-year-old Douglas Morin Jr. of Oakfield.

Asante has since gone through two murder trials, one in 2018 and a second in 2021.

Asante was found guilty in 2018 of intentional or knowing murder in the death of Morin. He was granted another trial after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in June 2020 that the jury was given the wrong instructions related to the robbery charge. It was the first time since 2004 that Maine’s highest court had vacated a murder conviction.

However, Asante remained in prison and was found guilty at his second trial in 2021 and sentenced to 35 years for murder and 20 years for robbery to be served concurrently.

Asante appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that his 35-year sentence for murder violated his constitutional right to a punishment proportional to the offense and that the court made a mistake by failing to give the jury full instructions on his claim that he killed Morin in self-defense.


His attorney, Rory McNamara, argued that jurors in 2021 were still not told to consider felony murder, which comes with more lenient sentencing guidelines, a maximum of 30 years with the possibility of early release. People convicted of knowing or intentional murder can be sentenced to life in prison, judges are unable to suspend any portion of their sentences, and they cannot earn early release.

Justices were not swayed by Asante’s argument that he acted in self-defense when he shot Morin, saying his robbery conviction disqualified his self-defense claim.

“A claim of self-defense by a defendant does not change the elements of the crime committed,” the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion. “As such there is no fundamental unfairness or disproportionate scheme for sentencing purposes between felony murder and murder premised on a theory of accomplice liability.”

According to court records, Asante, who was in his early 20s at the time, and two accomplices, who lived in Massachusetts, were driven to Aroostook County in a friend’s car in October 2016 with the intention of purchasing marijuana from Morin.

Asante and his accomplices met Morin at a gas station in Sherman. They got into a vehicle with Morin, who drove the three to a rural dirt road.  When one of Asante’s companions tried to flee with the marijuana, Morin, who was driving, locked the doors and displayed a firearm.

At that point, Asante, who was sitting behind the driver, pulled a weapon and shot Morin nine times. The three left the scene with the marijuana and returned to Massachusetts. Asante was arrested in Massachusetts and found to be in possession of the gun used to kill Morin, according to court records.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said that Maine law provides that a person is justified in using deadly force upon another person when the person reasonably believes it necessary and reasonably believes that such other person is about to use unlawful, deadly force against the person or a third person.

“To generate the self-defense instruction Asante now claims the trial court should have given, the evidence would have to have shown that the victim (Morin) was committing or about to commit a robbery against him (Asante) or his companions that would justify Asante’s use of deadly force,” the justices wrote. “Even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Asante, the evidence does not warrant the giving of instruction that Asante now claims was necessary.”

The Supreme Judicial Court said that self-defense is not available to a person committing or about to commit a robbery. Justices said his robbery conviction disqualified his claim of self defense.

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