Bucksport man heads to trial in 2005 gravel pit beating

Posted Sept. 28, 2010, at 8:54 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Sedgwick man who claims he was beaten five years ago with a blunt object testified Tuesday morning in Hancock County Superior Court that his alleged attacker threatened to kill him.

Thomas A. Powell, 21, told a jury that Jayson Lapoint, 27, of Bucksport hit him on the head and knocked him off a motorbike during a confrontation in a Sedgwick gravel pit in August 2005. He said Lapoint then made comments as he paced around Powell, who was lying on the ground, and continued to strike him on the head.

“At one point, he had his knee in my chest and his pocketknife out and said he was going to slit my throat and kill me,” Powell testified.

Lapoint is on trial on charges of aggravated assault and assault. The trial, which began Tuesday morning, is expected to last two days.

Though the incident occurred in 2005, the trial has been delayed until now because Lapoint has changed defense attorneys multiple times since charges were filed against him, according to officials familiar with the case.

On Tuesday, Powell told the jury of eight men and six women, including two alternates, that the confrontation was spurred by an argument he had with some other men over a small tin container. He believed the tin belonged to him but that someone else had taken it.

According to Mary Kellett, assistant district attorney for Hancock County, Powell wanted the empty tin simply because he liked it and considered it his.

Powell testified that earlier on the night of the alleged assault, he met a few other men at the gravel pit and pressured one of them to give the tin to him. The man did and then left, but later returned to the pit with Lapoint and others to demand the tin back from Powell. That’s when Powell attempted to flee on the motorbike but allegedly was knocked off the bike by Lapoint.

Powell testified that Lapoint then repeatedly struck him with some kind of pipe or club that was about 2 feet long and about an inch in diameter. The exact nature of the alleged weapon is not clear because police have been unable to find it.

Powell was conscious throughout the alleged attack, which ended after he relinquished the tin to Lapoint. A friend who was with Powell but who was not assaulted then took Powell to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital for treatment.

“I got 11 staples for that,” Powell told the jury, referring to the wound he suffered on the back of his head from the alleged beating. “That was an open wound for quite a while.”

Powell, who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, said it took him three or four months to recover from his injuries.

He now is serving time behind bars for unrelated offenses.

He was sentenced in 2007 to three years in prison for trafficking in cocaine and in July was sentenced to an added 3½ years in prison for assaulting an officer.

Powell’s cocaine trafficking conviction had been deferred while he was participating in drug court, but he skipped out on his required drug court appearances last year, according to court records. He assaulted a sheriff’s deputy outside a store in Southwest Harbor in November 2009 after the deputy recognized him and tried to arrest him for failing to appear in drug court. Powell punched the deputy in the face and fled into nearby woods.

He was recaptured about an hour later after several law enforcement agencies responded to the initial assault report. The sentence on the cocaine conviction, which he began serving last November, and his sentence for assaulting the sheriff’s deputy are consecutive, meaning Powell is serving 6½ years behind bars for the two offenses.

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