Trials being scheduled in three Somerset County murder cases

Posted Jan. 09, 2012, at 5:47 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 09, 2012, at 10:10 p.m.
Jay Mercier is led from Somerset Superior Court in Skowhegan on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, by Maine state troopers following a hearing. Mercier was charged in the death of 20-year-old Rita St. Peter, whose battered body was found near the side of a road in Anson on July 5, 1980.
David Leaming, Morning Sentinel | AP
Jay Mercier is led from Somerset Superior Court in Skowhegan on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, by Maine state troopers following a hearing. Mercier was charged in the death of 20-year-old Rita St. Peter, whose battered body was found near the side of a road in Anson on July 5, 1980.
Angelo Licata
Somerset County Jail
Angelo Licata

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Trial schedules for three pending Somerset County murder cases are expected to be determined on Wednesday.

The Attorney General’s Office will meet separately with defendants Angelo Licata, Robert Lee Nelson and Jay Mercier and a judge at Somerset County Superior Court for settlement conferences starting at 8:30 a.m., according to the AG’s office on Monday.

A settlement conference “gives the judge a chance to talk with attorneys to determine how many witnesses there will be and how long [the case] might take,” said Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the attorney general. “It’s mostly a scheduling opportunity.”

Kielty said Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson did not have any comment on the cases.

Mercier, 56, of Industry is charged in the July 1980 death of Rita St. Peter. He pleaded not guilty in October and was denied bail again last Friday.

A discarded cigarette butt led to Mercier’s arrest, according to a police affidavit from December. Police were able to match DNA from the cigarette to DNA found on St. Peter’s body.

According to former Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Ryan in the affidavit, St. Peter appeared to have suffered injuries to her head and then she was run over by a vehicle. The crime took place near Campground Road in Anson on July 5, 1980.

The tire tracks found at the scene were similar to those left by the tires on Mercier’s vehicle.

State police Detective Bryant Jacques said in an affidavit that Mercier told him he never met St. Peter. Mercier said he could have gone to Campground Road on the night St. Peter was killed but doesn’t remember doing so.

Licata, 34, of Detroit is charged with killing his 63-year-old father, Alfred Licata, last July. He pleaded not guilty to the crime in October.

Alfred Licata appeared to have suffered blunt-force trauma to the head during an altercation with his son that took place in his kitchen. He was found dead on his front lawn in Cambridge. Police have not said what was used as a weapon.

In a state’s motion for forensic evaluation, Licata had told police in an interview that God told him to kill his father.

Nelson, 41, of Norridgewock pleaded not guilty in October in the shooting death of Everett Cameron on Oct. 31, 2009.

Cameron, 60, was shot to death while sitting in his pickup truck a short distance from his Anson home. Detectives said the two men knew each other.

Nelson also pleaded not guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon, a Class C charge.

All three defendants are being held at Somerset County Jail in Madison.

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this story said Robert Lee Nelson and Everett Cameron did not know each other. Police say the two men knew each other.

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