Prosecutors argued Friday that a Saco man accused of committing a fatal shooting in Biddeford last year should be prohibited from contacting his mother and fiancee because he has already attempted to tamper with a witness from jail.

Lorenze A. Labonte at a hearing in January in York County via Zoom. Screenshot via Zoom hearing

Lorenze Labonte, 25, who has been charged with killing Lewiston’s Ahmed Sharif, 27, appeared remotely in York County Superior Court on Friday morning. He asked the judge to reinstate his right to call his fiancee, Kayla Grant, who was shot the day after his arrest and is a potential witness in both cases.

His attorneys also asked the judge to deny the prosecutor’s request to expand the prohibition to his mother, Roxy Labonte.

“Isolation is a known detriment to any person’s psyche,” defense attorney Leslie Wilson said. She said Labonte has mostly been kept in a maximum security cell since his November arrest and has spent 23 hours per day in isolation.

“Mr. Labonte is not immune to the perils that come from being cut off from the world and his loved ones,” she said.

Wilson argued that it was unreasonable for the state to keep Labonte from contacting Grant, whom he lived with and shared a dog with before his arrest. After Grant was shot, Wilson said Labonte struggled to find anyone who could take care of the couple’s pet or get his things from their apartment.


But Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Ackerman said recordings of several jail phone calls suggest Labonte has already attempted to manipulate her.

“If my little sister is convicted of this (expletive), there’s going to be real hell to pay,” he told Grant on one recording from Dec. 14. “Loose lips sink ships. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Prosecutors said that before she was shot, Grant told her coworker that Labonte had admitted to killing Sharif. It’s not clear from the call if Labonte was referring to Grant talking to police or her coworker.

Labonte’s lead attorney, Verne Paradie, was not in the courtroom Friday as he was representing Labonte’s father in an unrelated case in Cumberland County. In an email Friday afternoon Paradie said it was impossible to fairly judge the snippets of individual phone calls without context and that the recordings were unrelated to the charges against Labonte.

Judge James Martemucci had not issued a ruling by the time the court closed on Friday afternoon. Before the morning’s hearing adjourned, he urged Labonte to think carefully about what he said on recorded jail lines in the future.

“I say that to you for your own protection,” he said.



Police say Labonte shot Sharif at Labonte’s mother’s apartment in Biddeford on Nov. 24. Sharif was staying with his girlfriend Ariana Tito, who is Labonte’s sister, when Labonte arrived in a ski mask and fired the fatal shot, according to testimony given by a Maine State Police detective on Dec. 19.

Two witnesses, including Labonte’s 10-year-old sister, have linked him to the apartment at the time of the shooting, according to police.

Zachary Jewett, 34, who told officers he drove Labonte to his mother’s apartment and then to Massachusetts, said the shooting was retaliation because Sharif “supposedly caused the drug overdose death of one of ‘Lo’s’ fellow gang members,” according to a transcript of the detective’s testimony.

After his arrest on Nov. 27, Labonte pleaded not guilty to murder, possessing a firearm as a prohibited person and tampering with a witness, as well as other charges stemming from a seemingly unrelated incident. His lawyers have said the witnesses who have implicated Labonte are not credible. Tito and another witness both told police that the shooter spoke a foreign language, possibly Somalian (implying Labonte could not be the shooter), his defense attorney Verne Paradie said.

Tito was arrested later that week for allegedly shooting Grant, who suffered serious injuries but survived. 


Grant may now have information on not one, but two shootings, and the state views her as a potential witness, Ackerman said.

Many questions about Grant’s shooting remain unanswered. An affidavit that could offer more clarity is still under seal.


While the defense argued that Labonte hasn’t done anything inappropriate on his calls from the York and Cumberland county jails since his arrest, Ackerman made the case that he has already tried to manipulate Grant.

She played recordings of several jail calls. On some, Labonte appears to make a halfhearted attempt to disguise the identity of the person he’s talking to, but Ackerman said the context of the calls makes it clear that he’s speaking with Grant or other people he is prohibited from contacting.

Grant was still in the hospital with a shattered jaw and two severed vertebrae on Dec. 14 when Labonte called her and warned there would be “hell to pay” if his sister was convicted of the shooting. He warned her to cut off contact with one of her friends.


Ackerman said Labonte has also tried other methods of controlling Grant, including asking friends to check up on her and asking Grant to move in with his mother.

But when he was not trying to “butter (Grant’s) biscuit” to make her feel secure, Labonte was telling others that he was planning to end the relationship, Ackerman said.

During one recorded conversation in which he complains to a friend that Grant doesn’t cook or clean for him, he says he secretly plans to break off the relationship when he’s out of jail. In the meantime, he intimates, he needs to maintain the relationship for strategic reasons.

“Do me a favor and play her close,” he tells the friend. “I told my mom the same thing. She’s a chessboard.”

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