Lobsterman shooting trial under way on midcoast

Posted March 08, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A jury will decide whether a Matinicus lobsterman and his daughter were defending themselves or acting recklessly last summer when Christopher Young, a fellow lobster fisherman, was shot in a territorial dispute.

The trial got underway Monday in Knox County Superior Court. It is scheduled to last three days.

Edwin Vance Bunker, 68, is charged with two counts of elevated aggravated assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct. His daughter, Janan Miller, 42, of Matinicus is also on trial. She is charged with reckless conduct for wielding a loaded shotgun at the same incident.

Bunker’s attorney Philip Cohen said in his opening statement that his client shot Young, 41, with a revolver but shot in order to protect himself and his family.

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“When he fired those shots he had a reasonable belief that he had to,” Cohen said.

Miller’s lawyer did not make an opening statement.

The shooting incident was the culmination of an on-going argument of territory and trap cutting, Knox County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said in his opening statement. Young lost approximately $20,000 in equipment from trap cutting, the prosecutor told the jury. Young suspected either Bunker or his son-in-law, Allen Miller, who is married to Bunker’s daughter, cut his traps.

“This case is about the use, or rather misuse, of firearms,” Rushlau said. “[Bunker and Janan Miller] chose to bring those loaded firearms into an argument.”

Young is scheduled to testify Monday afternoon.

We’ll have updates from the trial throughout the day at bangordailynews.com. For a complete account of the opening day, pick up tomorrow’s Bangor Daily News.

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