New evidence delays Bangor murder trial

Posted Jan. 31, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 31, 2011, at 8:15 p.m.
Zachary Carr
Zachary Carr
Zachary Carr, who is accused of the January 2010 shooting death of John &quotBobby" Surles, sits in the courtroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Monday, January 31, 2011. Carr's trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, but has been continued until Feb. 28 due to addition evidence received by the defense late last week.
Zachary Carr, who is accused of the January 2010 shooting death of John "Bobby" Surles, sits in the courtroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Monday, January 31, 2011. Carr's trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, but has been continued until Feb. 28 due to addition evidence received by the defense late last week.
BANGOR, Maine — The jury trial of a local teenager accused of gunning down a rival has been continued until Feb. 28 after the defense team received additional evidence just days before Monday’s scheduled start date.

Zachary Carr, 19, is accused of shooting John “Bobby” Surles with a 9 mm handgun at 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.

Surles allegedly told a passer-by who came to his aid that “Zack Carr” was the person who shot him. He died at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor about 28 hours after the shooting from injuries caused by a gunshot wound to the chest, according to court documents.

The trial had been scheduled to get under way Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

About 60 people were in the courtroom when Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy announced that the trial would be continued. She told the dozen or so who had been subpoenaed to testify that they should be back at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. in a month.

A new jury will not need to be selected. Sixteen jurors, including four alternates, were selected for the trial Monday, Jan. 24.

Murphy on Monday granted a motion to continue the trial, which was submitted last week by defense attorney F. David Walker IV of Bangor. Walker told the judge Friday that the day before, he had received summaries of Bangor police interviews with people who allegedly witnessed the shooting that contained important evidence.

That evidence, Walker told the judge, contained a statement that a witness reportedly made shortly after the shooting to a Shaw House employee. The witness allegedly said she had seen someone in the group of people with Surles brandish a gun before Carr allegedly fired.

If the witness would testify to that during Carr’s trial, it could support his contention that he fired in self-defense.

Walker said Friday that he and his private investigator needed time to interview potential witnesses and see how the information could affect the defense but did not ask for a specific amount of time.

The police summaries were part of routine items that are shared by prosecutors with members of the defense team during the discovery phase — usually after indictment and before jury selection — of a trial.

Walker told Murphy that he believed the reports had been mislaid and not withheld deliberately from the defense.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson told television reporters the delay would not affect the prosecution.

In addition to murder, Carr was indicted in February by the Penobscot County grand jury on a charge of adequate provocation manslaughter.

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.

Carr has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest Jan. 29, 2010, and will remain there until a verdict is reached.

The trial is scheduled to last five days.

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.

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