BANGOR, Maine — The jury trial of a local teenager accused of gunning down a rival is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Zachary Carr, 19, is accused of shooting an unarmed John “Bobby” Surles with a 9 mm handgun about 6 p.m. Jan. 27, 2010, in a confrontation outside 62 Cumberland St. in Bangor. Carr allegedly shot Surles during a fight near the apartment where Carr lived.
Carr has pleaded not guilty to murdering Surles.
Surles allegedly told a passer-by who came to his aid that “Zack Carr” was the person who shot him. He died about 28 hours after the shooting at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor from injuries caused by a gunshot wound to the chest, according to court documents.
Carr has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest Jan. 29, 2010.
He has maintained that he was defending himself when the gun was fired.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, declined Friday to comment on the trial. It is the practice of the Maine Attorney General’s Office not to comment on cases until they have been concluded.
Benson has submitted the names of 83 potential witnesses to the court. That list includes the investigating Bangor police detectives, a state medical examiner, personnel from the Maine State Police Crime Lab, and the people who were at the scene when the shooting occurred and arrived immediately afterward.
Carr’s attorney, F. David Walker IV of Bangor, said Friday his potential witness list totaled fewer than 20 people, including the defendant.
“A decision about whether Zack will take the stand will not be made until after the state rests its case,” Walker said Friday.
Other possible defense witnesses include a firearms expert who could testify about how easy it might be to accidentally discharge a 9 mm Glock similar to the one identified as the murder weapon, the defense attorney said.
The confrontation in which Surles was shot a year ago was between two rival groups that called themselves the “The Bloods” and the “The Skaters,” Benson has said. Carr allegedly belonged to the former and the defendant to the latter, the prosecutor said in June at a hearing where Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy denied bail to Carr.
She will preside over the trial, which is expected to last five or six days. The jury, which included three alternates, was selected Monday.
Benson said in June that the two groups did not meet the U.S. Department of Justice definition of a gang.
“There was an ongoing dispute between these two groups, whether you call them a gang or a pseudogang,” he said.
Walker countered that there was no evidence that Carr was a member of a gang.
Last year, there were at least two related confrontations between the same two groups of teens and young adults, according to Bangor police.
About two months after Surles died, three male juveniles were arrested and charged with carrying concealed weapons after a confrontation on Center Street, according to a previously published report. The three, who were not identified by Bangor police because of their ages, said the incident was connected to Surles’ death.
The March 18 incident took place the day after a similar one at the Penobscot Judicial Center on the day of Carr’s arraignment. Both altercations were between the friends of the slain man and the man accused of killing him, according to Bangor police.
Bangor police Detective Tim Cotton said Friday that he had not been notified of any trouble between the two groups since June.
In addition to murder, Carr also was indicted in February by the Penobscot County grand jury on a charge of adequate provocation manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty to both charges in March.
Adequate provocation manslaughter is “intentionally or knowingly [causing] the death of another human being under circumstances that do not constitute murder because the person causes the death while under the influence of extreme anger or extreme fear brought about by adequate provocation,” the manslaughter statute states.
Under the statute, extreme anger or extreme fear brought on by adequate provocation is a mitigating circumstance reducing murder to manslaughter. It would be up to the jury to determine whether the circumstances under which Surles was shot meet that standard.
If convicted of murder, Carr faces 25 years to life in prison. If convicted on the manslaughter charge, he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.