Judge denies bail reduction for machete-attack suspect

Posted Dec. 31, 2008, at 9:27 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A 21-year-old Augusta man remains in jail after a judge denied his request for bail reduction on charges in a brutal machete attack on a Pittston man and his young daughter.

Daniel Fortune had asked that his bail be reduced from $1 million to $50,000 in cash or $100,000 in property. Fortune is facing multiple charges in the attack last May on William Guerrette Jr. and his daughter Nicole, who was 10 at the time.

Fortune’s attorney, Pamela Ames, told Justice Nancy Mills on Tuesday that Fortune was at the Guerrette home at the time of the attack, but that it was his foster brother, 18-year-old Leo Hylton, who wielded the machete that left the father and daughter with severe head and arm injuries.

“The state’s evidence, at best, puts Mr. Fortune at the scene,” Ames told Mills. “They don’t have sufficient evidence to prove accomplice liability. They have a full confession from Mr. Hylton.”

Ames said Hylton has admitted to police that he repeatedly struck William Guerrette with the machete, then went after Nicole after seeing her on the stairs. Fortune wanted to leave the scene, but Hylton told him he couldn’t “leave witnesses,” Ames said.

Fortune went along in the attack because he felt bad that he had allowed Guerrette into the apartment Fortune shared with Hylton to search for a safe that had been stolen from Guerrette’s home last December. The safe contained more than $30,000 in cash and rare coins and historic bank notes valued at between $175,000 and $200,000, but was empty when Guerrette retrieved it from the apartment.

“Mr. Hylton felt very guilty because he got his foster brother in criminal trouble,” Ames said.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley said prosecutors have a strong case against Fortune, including an inmate at the jail who said Fortune told him he was involved in the attacks.

“The state is confident we have very strong evidence placing [Fortune] at the scene and actively involved in the planning and execution of these crimes,” Kelley said.

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