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Sentencing set for topless coffee shop arsonist

Joel Page | BDN
Joel Page | BDN
Raymond J. Bellavance Jr. speaks with his attorney Andrews Campbell after being found guilty Friday, Dec. 30, 2011 at Kennebec Superior Court in Augusta, Maine on two counts of arson for setting fire to the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in June 2009.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — The man convicted of torching the topless coffee shop on Route 3 in Vassalboro is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 19, in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Raymond Bellavance Jr. of Wintrhop faces up to 30 years in prison.

His sentence most likely will be long because of his extensive criminal record, most of which was not revealed to the jury, and because there were two infants living in the building — a former motel — that housed the coffee shop. The 21 months he has been at the Kennebec County Jail unable to make bail and awaiting trial would be applied to his sentence.

Last week, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy, who presided over the trial and will impose a sentence, denied defense attorney Andrews Campbell’s motion for a new trial. Campbell, of Bowdoinham, said late Thursday in an email that the case would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after Bellavance is sentenced.

The jury on Dec. 30 found Bellavance guilty of two counts of arson. One alleged that he deliberately set the blaze on June 3, 2009, at the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop to cause damage. The other alleged he recklessly endangered a person or property.

The owner, Donald Crabtree, who now lives in Greenbush, his two daughters, their boyfriends and their infants lived at the former motel.

Bellavance maintained his innocence throughout his 10-day jury trial in Kennebec County Superior Court.

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