BANGOR, Maine — A local man accused in the brutal slaying of a 19-year-old woman from Old Town last month pleaded not guilty to murder during his arraignment on Wednesday.
Colin Koehler, 34, of Bangor entered his plea with Justice William Anderson in Penobscot County Superior Court, while his friends and family, and family members of Holly Boutilier, the victim, sat in the courtroom.
Two friends of the accused man, Joe DiLeone of Connecticut and Bangor resident Wendy O’Brian, sat beside Koehler’s parents. After the short arraignment hearing, DiLeone said that he was in Maine to support his longtime friend and his family.
“They’re having a tough time trying to hold it together,” he said of Koehler’s family. “They’re praying for Colin.”
DiLeone said he believes that Koehler, who was dressed in an orange jumpsuit with his ankles shackled during Wednesday’s hearing, is innocent.
“He’s not that type of person,” the Connecticut man said on the courthouse steps. “I think eventually the police are going to find the person who did this. I honestly don’t think Colin was the one who did this.”
Koehler went for a walk along the waterfront on Aug. 8 with the victim and Justin Ptaszynski, 27, of Bangor, who also has been charged with Boutiliter’s murder. When the trio got to a shack hidden in the trees between the end of Dutton Street and the Veterans’ Remembrance Bridge, Koehler used a small curved Japanese-style knife to stab her multiple times and cut her throat, according to a police affidavit dated Aug. 12.
Ptaszynski and Koehler were captured on Hollywood Slots video surveillance cameras leaving the area at 2:11 p.m. Aug. 8.
The two men walked down Main Street and stopped at Shaw’s supermarket before proceeding to Koehler’s Columbia Street apartment, where he allegedly placed the weapon on top of the refrigerator.
Koehler, according to the affidavit, admitted to his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend that he killed Boutilier.
Ptaszynski placed a call to Koehler, which was recorded by police, asking whether he got rid of the knife, the affidavit states.
Police arrested Koehler, 34, on Aug. 10 after a standoff at his downtown Bangor apartment, and he was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury on Aug. 24 for intentional or knowing murder.
When police raided Koehler’s apartment they took several weapons as evidence, but have not indicated whether the murder weapon was found. Police also collected clothing with dried blood on it.
Ptaszynski was arrested on Sept. 3 and charged with intentional or knowing murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution. It is expected that he will be indicted by the grand jury on Sept. 28.
Ptaszynski was denied bail on Wednesday after a hearing in Penobscot County Superior Court before Justice Michaela Murphy.
In her decision not to grant him bail, Murphy noted that while he did not have a criminal record before the August murder, she considered him a potential flight risk. She cited Ptaszynski’s lack of ties to the Bangor area and reports that he told police officers he wanted to move to Florida to be closer to his mother, who lives there.
During a bail hearing before the ruling, Bangor police Detective Brent Beaulieu testified that investigators have learned that Ptaszynski grew up in the Midwest and that he came to Bangor after a failed relationship with a woman he had met and moved to Canada with. After the relationship failed, the woman bought him a bus ticket and he wound up in Bangor.
Ptaszynkski’s court-appointed attorney, Jeff Silverstein, said that his client has no financial resources so it was unlikely he would have been in a position to make bail had it been granted. He said, however, that he had hoped to preserve any right to bail should Ptaszynski’s financial situation change.
Ptaszynski will continue to be held at Penobscot County Jail.
Now that Koehler has pleaded not guilty, “he has 60 days to file [pre-trial] motions and then his case will be scheduled for trial,” Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said on Wednesday.
If convicted of murder, Koehler and Ptaszynski face 25 years to life in prison.
During Koehler’s first court appearance on Aug. 13 before Justice Murphy in Penobscot County Superior Court, she ordered that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation to assure that he is capable of participating in his own defense. The next week, he waived his right to a bail hearing and is being held without bail in Penobscot County Jail.
O’Brian said she has spoken by phone to Koehler, and commented that, “he’s having a hard time in jail.”
Koehler’s two friends said that to pass the time, he is using his skills as a graphic artist.
“He says he’s writing a children’s book,” DiLeone said.