ROCKLAND, Maine — A 37-year-old Friendship lobsterman will spend 45 days in jail after pleading guilty Monday to reduced charges stemming from a December shooting on a dock over the cutting of traps.
The agreement, which reduced the felony charges to misdemeanors, was opposed by the victim in the case, the prosecutor acknowledged.
James R. Simmons was sentenced Monday in Knox County Superior Court to 364 days in jail with all but 45 days suspended for criminal threatening and reckless conduct. He received lesser concurrent sentences for two counts of possession of oxycodone and violating a condition of release.
Simmons was charged originally with felony counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.
According to witness statements and an affidavit filed in December by Deputy James Moore of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the victim said he arrived at Wallace’s Lobster Wharf on Dec. 4 and saw James Simmons. The victim said Simmons ran back to his truck, came out with a rifle and fired at him. Simmons also yelled to the man that he would soon kill him, according to the affidavit.
The victim was not struck. The victim claimed that Simmons accused him of cutting his lobster traps, a claim the victim denied.
A search of Simmons’ truck the following day found both live ammunition and spent casings along with oxycodone pills.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald acknowledged that while the victim in the case was not happy with the decision to reduce the charges, the victim initially said he could live with the agreement. Fernald said, however, that the victim was at the courthouse earlier Monday and said he opposed the charges being dropped from felonies to misdemeanors.
Defense attorney Steven Peterson said this case would have boiled down to a question of self-defense had the case gone to trial. Peterson said he hired a private investigator and has recordings of threats against his client and wife by the 34-year-old man listed as the victim in the case.
Simmons also will be placed on probation for a year. During that time, he is prohibited from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs and is prohibited from having a firearm, but can have a bow and arrow or crossbow. Simmons also must undergo anger management analysis.
A few days after being charged with the shooting in December, he also was charged with possession of oxycodone and violating a condition of release when one oxycodone pill was found in his home, Fernald said. Fernald said, however, that Simmons claimed the pill was left over from an expired prescription.
Justice Donald Marden questioned whether it was a crime to have an expired drug if it had been legally prescribed to the defendant. Fernald said he has prosecuted hundreds of cases similar to this and that prescription medications have expiration dates on them.
Marden eventually agreed to accept the plea to the drug offenses.
Simmons was allowed to report to jail Friday to allow him to get his affairs in order before serving the 45-day sentence.