BANGOR, Maine — The events leading up to the street fight that ended with the shooting death of 19-year-old John “Bobby” Surles last year were recounted by a string of witnesses Wednesday during the third day of Zachary Carr’s murder trial. Two of them said that both Carr and one of his friends brought guns to the fight.
“We had had problems with them,” Surles’ friend Michael Morin-Smith, 15, said of Carr’s group of friends.
Carr, 19, is accused of shooting Surles with a 9 mm handgun at about 6 p.m. Jan. 27, 2010, and is charged with intentional or knowing murder and adequate provocation manslaughter.
Friends of both Surles and the defendant said the day of the shooting began with Surles’ friends throwing an egg at one of Carr’s friends and Carr’s friends responding by throwing a baseball bat at the car Surles and his friends were in as they drove repeatedly by the Cumberland Street residence where Carr and several of his friends lived.
Next came threats and taunting. Then a gang fight was planned in a parking lot on Center Street, but when none of Carr’s friends showed up, Surles and his friends walked the short distance to 57 Cumberland St. armed with weapons, including a machete, a pair of brass knuckles with a knife attached, a baseball bat, Mace, a shovel and a mop handle, the witnesses said.
What they didn’t know was that Carr had a gun, as did one of his friends, testified Dylan Colvin, who was a friend of Carr, and Ben Hatfield, a friend of Surles.
“When we got there Alex Moleon and Zack Carr came out with their guns pointing,” Hatfield said.
That differs from the police statement he gave a year ago, when he said he didn’t see who had a gun during the melee, defense attorney F. David Walker IV pointed out.
Seven people testified Wednesday, and all were on Cumberland Street the night Surles was shot. Four were involved in the street fight.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson called Colvin and Morin-Smith before resting the state’s case. Carr’s defense attorneys, Thomas Matzilevich and Walker, then called Jason Blake, Azaria Sullivan, Dakota Paradis and Robert Perkins, who are friends or associates of Carr, and Hatfield.
Some of the witnesses said they outright lied to police when first interviewed. Others said the stress of what happened blurred their perception of the incident.
Just before 6 p.m., Carol Sullivan, who rented the apartment but who has not testified at the trial, returned home with Perkins and they were told about what was happening, according to witnesses. Blake, Azaria Sullivan, Paradis and Perkins testified they looked out the apartment windows just before 6 p.m. and saw Surles and his friends. Perkins said Carol Sullivan told the eight young people at her house that she would take care of the situation.
Carr’s friends and Perkins said they heard a door slam and they believed Carol Sullivan went outside to confront Surles’ group. Several witnesses said they and Carr ran downstairs, and that’s when the chaos began.
Blake, who had to put his shoes on and was a couple of seconds behind Carr’s other friends, said that when he got outside he didn’t see anyone.
Seconds later, “I saw 10 to 12 kids running at me,” Blake said. “Everyone had a weapon.”
He stood his ground and met Surles in battle.
Morin-Smith, armed with Mace and a shovel, said he ran around 60 Cumberland St. and then hid behind a snowbank situated beside the building’s driveway.
“I ran out [from behind a snowbank] and ran into Zach and sprayed my Mace,” Morin-Smith said. He said Carr had pointed a gun at him, and “that’s why I sprayed him.”
That testimony differs from his police statement, which said Moleon pointed a gun at him, Walker pointed out. Morin-Smith said that after spraying Carr he ran back behind the snowbank, fearing for his life. He said that was when he heard the gunshot that took the life of his friend.
Blake said he was getting beaten by Surles with the mop handle when Carr kicked Surles, knocking him off. Blake said he was getting up off the ground when he saw a flash of light and heard the gunshot.
Azaria Sullivan, Molean’s 15-year-old sister, said she watched the entire fight from the apartment’s window. She said Carr is her best friend and that she did not tell police all of her story because they have a way of “twisting my words,” adding later, “I was scared.”
She said once Carr kicked Surles to get him off Blake, “Bobby turned on Zack swinging the pipe and hitting him in the head and the arm and all of a sudden there was a bang.”
All of Carr’s friends testified that he returned to the apartment and was crying, shaking and repeating the words, “I didn’t mean to do it.”