MATINICUS, Maine — Two local lobster boat sternmen who beat another over a fishing dispute and stole his gun in May have pleaded guilty to the assault and related crimes. One man was sentenced Monday to serve two years for his role, while the second is to be sentenced later this month.
Joshua Anthony, 29, and Jason Luce, 39, both of Matinicus, have pleaded guilty in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland to aggravated criminal trespass, aggravated assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and terrorizing.
On Monday, Anthony was sentenced to two years in prison for the trespass and threatening charges and an additional nine months each for the assault and terrorizing charges. The sentences are to be served concurrently. The more serious charges of burglary and theft were dismissed.
Luce, who pleaded guilty to the charges on Dec. 6, will be sentenced later this month. A charge of burglary against Luce was dismissed earlier this month.
The charges stem from the assault in early May on a fellow sternman at his home on Matinicus Island.
“[The victim] said this whole deal started over two of his friends setting fishing gear off the island of Matinicus a few weeks back,” wrote Deputy John Palmer of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department in a report filed with the court.
The victim was cooking in his island home at about 10 p.m. on May 1 when he heard a knock on his door, according to Palmer’s report and another also filed with the court by Detective Dwight Burtis of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
After opening the door, the victim was punched and beaten by the two men for almost an hour, with Luce and Anthony taking turns hitting him or holding him up to be hit, according to the reports. Police said the attack left the victim with a fractured nose, bruising throughout his face and side, and possibly a few fractured ribs.
At one point, Anthony held the victim’s hand down on a table, while Luce threatened to break his hands and fingers with a piece of firewood, according to Palmer’s report.
Before they left, Luce rifled through the victim’s belongings and took a Taurus .357 Magnum seven-shot revolver. One of the men also threatened to harm the victim’s girlfriend and parents if he reported the incident to police, according to the court documents.
Burtis said Luce and Anthony were drunk at the time of the incident.
The victim later was taken to Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, and he was treated and released, according to Sheriff Donna Dennison.
On Sunday, May 2, a day after the incident, the victim went to the sheriff’s office to submit a complaint and a statement. On Monday, May 3, officials with the Sheriff’s Office, along with Marine Patrol officers, went to Matinicus to investigate. There, Luce surrendered. Police said they found Anthony in the attic crawl space of a Matinicus home. Officials took both off the island at gunpoint.
Officers also obtained information about the location of the handgun, which one of the men allegedly threw into the ocean. On Tuesday, May 4, officials from the Marine Patrol and Knox County Sheriff’s Office rode a boat to Matinicus again, this time with the Maine State Police Dive Team. Three divers searched the waters off the jagged shoreline, where they retrieved the revolver within 15 minutes, according to Burtis, who said the low tides and the light silver color of the weapon helped.