June 18, 2018
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Howland brothers each post $10,000 cash bail in brutal beating case

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

HOWLAND, Maine — The vicious Friday night fight that left two local men with broken facial bones, broken ribs and missing teeth was sparked when money they dropped off for drugs was used to buy beer, one of the four men arrested told police.

Brandon T. Summerson, 21, of Enfield; Charles W. Gardner, 20, of Howland; and brothers John T. McKinnon, 21, and Henry R. McKinnon, 27, both of Howland, each have been charged with two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the fight, which took place down the street from where the brothers live.

The two victims, who are 30 and 31 and both of Howland, ”were both severely beaten,” said Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman. The Bangor Daily News is withholding their names because they are victims.

“Charles [Gardner] told me that the fight started over drug money,” Maine State Police trooper Larry Anderson said in the court affidavit filed in the assault. “He told me that [the victims] gave Henry [McKinnon money] to buy them drugs. Charles told me that Henry used the money to buy everyone beer. Charles told me that [when the victims] came back for their drugs, Henry and everyone bragged about spending their money on beer.”

Gardner told the trooper that the two victims then left, but not before “threatening to get a gun.”

According to witnesses and the McKinnon brothers, the victims repeatedly drove past the McKinnons’ house, swearing and making threats. Later that night the suspects and victims met in the street not far from the McKinnon brothers’ home.

When the trooper responded at about 11:45 p.m. on Friday to a call about a fight in progress, he found the two victims injured and lying on the ground cut, bruised and swollen. One victim told the trooper, “they wouldn’t stop kicking him” but he refused to provide the officer names.

“He was too scared to tell me,” Anderson wrote in his report. “He told me he feared retribution if he told me.”

After the two victims were loaded into ambulances, the trooper found a wallet with Henry McKinnon’s identification inside, and near that found his brother’s cellphone and baseball cap. Police also collected Henry McKinnon’s sneakers, one with blood all over it, Anderson said.

The McKinnon brothers and Summerson “initially denied involvement in the assault” but later changed their stories and admitted they took part in the brutal fight.

Summerson told police he drank 25 beers that day and that he “punched [the 30-year-old victim] 15 to 20 times” and ended up on top of him and “held him down with his knee while he repeatedly punched him in the face. Brandon told me he blacks out when he fights,” the court document states.

A witness told police that while Summerson was attacking one victim, “Charles Gardner [was] on top of a second man … [and] was beating the man in the face with a rock.”

When Gardner returned to the McKinnon’s house, “he was covered in blood,” the court document states. He took a shower and then took off running into the woods and was later seen at a party where he told another person that “he bit the ear off one of the guys,” the affidavit states.

When initially questioned Gardner, who had a cut on one knuckle, told police he left before the fight started but when asked why he was bragging about being involved, “he told me that he wanted people to think he was involved to keep his bad reputation,” Anderson said in his report.

Police took two pairs of Gardner’s shoes as evidence, just before arresting him.

Maine State Police Sgt. David Millett and Troopers Larry Anderson and Keith Barton arrested Summerson and the McKinnon brothers at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday with assistance from Deputy Michael Knights of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and Game Warden Mike Boyer, district leader for the Lincoln region. Gardner was arrested Sunday.

The final page of the 10-page affidavit acquired Tuesday by the Bangor Daily News appears to be a photo of the two injured victims on the ground, possibly taken with a cellphone.

“[The 30-year-old] has 80 facial fractures and will need extensive facial reconstructive surgery,” Jim Aucoin, a Penobscot County assistant district attorney, told Superior Court Justice William Anderson in court Monday.

The younger victim also has a damaged spleen, broken ribs and a possible broken neck, the court document states. He was listed in fair condition on Tuesday, a hospital representative at Eastern Maine Medical Center said.

The 31-year-old man has several facial fractures, including a broken eye socket and broken jaw, knocked out teeth, and a broken nose.

He remained in EMMC’s intensive care unit with an unregulated heart beat, his mother said Monday.

Justice Anderson on Monday ordered that bail be set at $10,000 cash for each of four men.

Within hours, the McKinnon brothers were free.

“They both bailed out last night at [7:35 p.m.],” a jail official said Tuesday afternoon.

Summerson and Gardner remain behind bars, he said.

In addition to the $10,000 cash, Justice Anderson also added several bail conditions, which bars the four men from contacting the victims and each other, and from possessing weapons, alcohol or illegal drugs. The conditions also include random searches and testing and a curfew that requires whoever is bailed to be home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The four men face up to 10 years behind bars in prison for each of the two aggravated assault charges, if convicted.

The attorneys of the day representing the McKinnons both requested that bail be modified to allow the brothers to have contact with each other because the men live with their parents in Howland.

Anderson denied their petitions, however, based on the seriousness of the crimes.

“The two people have very, very serious injuries,” he said just before making his decision.

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