AUGUSTA, Maine — A former waitress at the Grand View Coffee Shop repeatedly responded to the prosecutor’s questions with the words “I don’t recall” while on the stand at Kennebec County Superior Court on Wednesday.
Krista MacIntyre, a defense witness, testified on the eighth day of the trial of Raymond Bellavance Jr., the man charged with two counts of arson in connection with the fire that burned the Vassalboro topless coffee shop to the ground on June 3, 2009.
MacIntyre, 31, of South Gardiner said she had a sex with Bellavance, shop owner Donald Crabtree and patron Jason Lunt around the same time in the months leading up to the fire but that she was not in an exclusive relationship with any of them.
MacIntyre has been described by Kennebec County Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley, who is prosecuting the case, as Bellavance’s girlfriend. B ellavance allegedly was jealous because she was having a sexual relationship with Crabtree.
On Wednesday, MacIntyre frequently couldn’t answer questions and gave two different excuses as to why she didn’t answer her cellphone when Bellavance called her one night almost three months before the fire.
On March 9, 2009, Bellavance came looking for MacIntyre after she didn’t answer her cellphone when he called, according to Kelley, who tried to punch holes in MacIntyre’s credibility.
When first asked about the calls, MacIntyre said she thought that her cell minutes had run out. Later, she testified that her phone was off. She said she often didn’t answer Bellavance’s calls.
Kelley speculated that Bellavance came to MacIntyre’s mother’s home to see if MacIntyre was actually there, and not seeing another man.
“I don’t recall the reason he came over that night,” said MacIntyre.
The next day, MacIntyre went to Augusta District Court to file a complaint for protection against abuse, said Kelley.
In the document, Kelley quoted MacIntyre as saying, “I was scared for my safety,” and that “He said no one else would ever have you. ‘You’re mine until I die.’”
MacIntyre admitted to lying on the document and acknowledged that Bellavance never said such a thing. She said she was pressured into getting the protection order by fellow waitresses.
“They told me to stretch” the truth, MacIntyre said. She said that “it was a mistake” to get the protection order because she wanted to continue to be friends with Bellavance. “After a day or so, I came to my senses.”
MacIntyre shrugged off the notion that Bellavance was jealous of her sexual relationship with Crabtree, saying that Bellavance also had other sexual partners at that time, including her cousin.
Kelley later countered by repeating an interview MacIntyre had with investigators, saying one night MacIntyre was chatting with Lunt in a parking lot while they sat in separate cars. He said Bellavance came out of the darkness, walked between both cars and put his hands on the roof and said, “What the … is going on here?”
“He was pretty mad because he wanted to hang out with me and I wouldn’t,” MacIntyre said in the affidavit, which she was asked to read aloud in court.
MacIntyre stated that she didn’t remember the conversation.
Defense attorney Andrews Campbell called seven witnesses on Wednesday.
Kelley was quick to question the credibility of several of the witnesses by asking if they were the same persons with criminal records. Four of the witnesses, including MacIntyre, confirmed their criminal history.
Aaron Brunelle, 32, of Augusta testified that Bellavance didn’t threaten to burn down the coffee shop during a barbecue at the home of Bellavance’s estranged wife, Tara Bellavance.
“I think I would remember that,” said Brunelle, noting he was friends with MacIntyre and Tara and Ray Bellavance. “I think I was a good enough friend that he would tell me something like that and not one of his enemies.”
Campbell attempted to discredit the time at which the state says the fire started by calling Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe to the stand.
Rowe stated that the time entered when the fire was called in was 12:22 a.m. June 3, 2009, and responders arrived at 12:30. He said the time was closer to 12:50 when they arrived. The Vassalboro Fire Department used a different system for recording times back then, he said.
“We can go back and edit [the time] to be more accurate. That wasn’t done in this case,” said Rowe.
The trial was delayed 13 times because of sidebar discussions with the attorneys and Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy.
The trial will continue Thursday with Thomas Mulkern being recalled as a witness. Last week, Mulkern, 26, of Augusta said he was with Bellavance when he started the fire.
Murphy expressed concern about the time the trial is taking. She said she had hoped to have closing arguments completed by Thursday, but that will depend on whether Bellavance takes the stand in his own defense.