May 21, 2018
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Fire, bail issues in LaGrange man’s case

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Jeremy Hart was back in jailhouse orange when he appeared Wednesday in 3rd District Court, accused of violating his bail conditions after allegedly testing positive for marijuana and Percocet.

Hart, 35, of LaGrange, who a week ago pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of his wife on Nov. 29, 2007, entered a not guilty plea Wednesday to violation of conditions of release. He will be held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail until a hearing can be scheduled next week on a motion to revoke his bail.

He also could remain in jail until his sentencing can be scheduled next month, attorney Julio DeSanctis, an associate of Stephen Smith of Bangor, who represents Hart on the manslaughter charge, told District Court Judge Jesse Gunther.

Court documents filed Wednesday revealed that the house where Hart shot and killed his wife, Kristen Smart Hart, 24, was destroyed in a fire that occurred about June 29, according to State Fire Marshal Tim York. York said Wednesday that the cause of the fire could not be determined due to the amount of damage to the house that Hart and his wife had constructed themselves.

Hart, originally charged with murder, was arrested on Dec. 2. He was released from the Penobscot County Jail on June 19 on $100,000 bail. He told investigators in mid-July that his house had burned to the ground, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, said Wednesday.

The fire was not reported to local officials, according to York. Damage was limited to the house and did not appear to have spread to the woods around it. No charges are expected to be filed related to the fire, York said.

After Hart pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter, Superior Court Justice William Anderson allowed him to remain free on bail but added provisions that prohibited him from using drugs and alcohol and allowed search and testing.

Other bail conditions included reporting a change of address and phone number to the court when he moved, which Hart allegedly did not do. Court documents listed his address as 23 Dread Lane, the home where his wife died during a party where drugs were being used.

On Monday, detectives who had investigated Kristen Hart’s death learned that Hart was no longer living at an apartment in Old Town, according to court documents. He had been forced to leave over the weekend after the Maine Department of Health and Human Services was contacted about child safety issues at the apartment. Hart allegedly had to leave because his name was not on the lease.

From the time he was released from jail on bail in June until early October he had lived with one of his wife’s cousin’s in Lee, according to court documents. Why he left that residence was not explained, but at the hearing last week Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, alleged that Hart and the cousin had conspired to dig up Kristen Hart’s ashes.

No charges have been filed in the alleged incident. Kristen Hart’s family said after the hearing that at least a portion of her ashes had been returned to them. They declined to say what had been done with them.

Police tracked Hart down Monday afternoon at a Brewer motel, according to court documents. Hart told police that he had smoked marijuana about two weeks earlier and said that he had not taken drugs since he last appeared in court. He told police that he had taken a Percocet that he had obtained from an man in Old Town on Monday, Oct. 13, two days before his bail conditions were amended.

Hart tested positive for THC, a compound found in marijuana, and Percocet. While THC can remain in the body for weeks, Percocet would only stay in the system for 72 hours, according the affidavit.

In a plea agreement with the prosecutor, Hart agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter last week. Prosecutor Benson agreed to recommend a 15-year sentence. Defense attorney Stephen Smith of Bangor is expected to argue for a lesser sentence.


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