Teens cleared in trucker’s death in Lincoln

Posted Jan. 05, 2010, at 8:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

The Penobscot County district attorney will not press charges in connection with the death of a 55-year-old trucker from Tennessee found in a parking lot in downtown Lincoln during the summer, he said Tuesday.

District Attorney Christopher Almy did not blame police, but said that circumstances and evidence simply didn’t warrant further action.

“There’s no evidence of a crime because we don’t have a victim to tell us what happened,” Almy said Tuesday.

Brian Isdell, 55, was found collapsed in a downtown parking lot on Aug. 20. He was pronounced dead at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln a short while later.

His death and reports of a violent confrontation he had with two Lincoln teens just before his collapse led local and state police to seal off the Mechanic and Lake streets block for several hours that morning as they investigated.

The teens — who have strongly denied any intent to physically harm Isdell — said they promised to help Isdell buy marijuana and that one of them fought with him briefly after they had taken a carton of cigarettes from his truck. They also said they took the trucker’s cell phone and were identified by police as persons of interest in connection with Isdell’s death.

An autopsy conducted Aug. 21 showed that Isdell died of natural causes brought on by heart disease and that the heart attack began several hours before the incident, as is typical. The autopsy ruling precludes a homicide charge, as it shows that the teens did not cause Isdell’s death, Almy said.

A robbery charge for the stolen cigarettes also would not fit, as witness statements and other evidence indicates that Isdell invited the teens into the truck in search of marijuana. By definition, robbery is theft that occurs through the use or threat of force.

A theft charge might have applied, Almy said, but again, police lack a victim statement that would identify the cigarettes or telephone as stolen. The victim also had one of the teen’s cell phones in his hand, indicating a trade of telephones, not a theft.

No charges could be brought in the case unless Almy and a criminal court judge agreed that police had found probable cause to make arrests.

Interim Police Chief Phil Dawson and Town Manager Lisa Goodwin were satisfied with Almy’s ruling.

“We felt we had exhausted all of our avenues [of investigation] in this,” Dawson said Tuesday. “This is not a murder. This is an unfortunate death brought on by health issues.”

Dawson contacted Isdell’s widow Tuesday to explain the ruling and to encourage her to contact Almy for a more direct explanation.

“She was very much supportive of us and thankful that we did what we could do,” Dawson said. “She indicated that she was disappointed overall with how it turned out, but she realizes that we did everything we could.”

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