Guilty verdicts in Maine machete trial

Posted May 14, 2010, at 12:45 p.m.

SKOWHEGAN — A jury on Friday found a 22-year-old Augusta man guilty of aggravated attempted murder and several other charges he faced stemming from a brutal machete attack that maimed a father and his 10-year-old daughter two years ago in Pittston.

Jurors in Somerset County Superior Court deliberated about four hours Friday before finding Daniel Fortune guilty in the home-invasion attack on William Guerrette Jr. and his daughter, Nicole. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on June 2.

Prosecutors and Fortune’s defense attorney agreed that Fortune went to the Guerrette home with his foster brother, Leo Hylton. But Fortune’s attorney, Pamela Ames, maintained that he didn’t know Hylton had brought a machete and knives.

Fortune blamed Hylton for the attacks. Hylton, 22, already pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Charges against Fortune includes four counts of aggravated attempted murder, attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and burglary. He had already pleaded guilty to a separate count of theft.

In closing arguments Friday, Ames told jurors that Fortune didn’t know there would be a violent attack when he rode with Hylton to the Guerrette home. Assistant District Attorney Alan Kelley maintained that Fortune and Hylton acted together in the crime.

The attacks capped a series of events starting with the theft of a safe containing money and other valuables from the Guerrette home in 2007 and leading to the pre-dawn break-in at the Guerrette home on May 27, 2008. Hylton, accompanied by Fortune, wanted to collect a $900 drug debt they said was owed by Guerrette’s teenage son, Fortune testified.

Guerrette testified that he spent a month in a coma after the attacks, and showed jurors scars on his head and arm as well as his hand, which is missing a finger. His daughter spent six weeks in the hospital and has had to wear a helmet to protect a soft spot on her head where part of her skull was removed after a fracture caused a bone infection.

He testified that he was awakened shortly before 2 a.m. by a burglar alarm on the morning of the attacks and saw a tall black man in the house. Hylton is 6-foot-6, and Fortune is shorter. Both are black.

His attempt to ward off the attacker with a handgun failed and he was struck.

Fortune, who was adopted by a Maine family and was a football star at Gardiner high school, and Hylton are foster brothers.

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