PARIS, Maine — A Windham man accused of attacking his ex-girlfriend outside the Crazy Eight pub last New Year’s Eve was acquitted Monday in Oxford County Superior Court.
Eric Minott, 33, was found not guilty by a jury of six men and six women. They deliberated for less than half an hour.
Minott was charged with hitting his then-girlfriend near her car. A witness said she saw a man throw a woman to the ground.
Minott, and his ex-girlfriend, who testified in his defense, said she was the aggressor, and that she’d jumped on his back to attack him before falling to the ground.
Before midnight on Dec. 31, 2011, an Oxford woman said she saw a man and woman arguing outside Crazy Eight. She testified Monday that the man “basically took her and tossed her to the ground.”
She ran to notify police, who were at the bar to break up an unrelated fight, and told a bouncer on the way. The bouncer testified that he ran in the direction she’d come from, and found Minott standing over the alleged victim, his hands in fists. He said he heard the woman looking up, asking, “Why are you doing this?”
The bouncer tackled Minott. After a brief fight, Officer Harry Sims of the Paris Police Department found them and arrested Minott on domestic violence assault. Sims said that he transported Minott to the jail immediately, as there was a growing crowd in the parking lot.
When Sims returned from booking Minott, he was told the victim had left the scene with a friend. He got the friend’s cell phone number and called. He said he briefly talked to the alleged victim, who told him she wouldn’t be bailing Minott out and refused to meet with Sims to give a statement.
In her testimony Monday, she told the court that she attacked Minott for stopping her from attacking someone she didn’t like. She said one of the men involved in the original fight was someone she hated and she called a friend on her phone to talk about it. She testified that the friend was “egging [her] on to attack the man.
Minott approached her and tried to block her from going after the man. She testified that she had a switchblade in her pocket because she has “a lot of enemies.”
Minott said he stopped her, and then took her phone to stop her from talking to her friend. That’s when she attacked him, she said. Minott said she tried to scratch and punch him, and his hands were up to protect his face.
The woman testified that she didn’t want to talk to Officer Sims because she had an illegal switchblade in her pocket.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph O’Connor said it was important to enforce the law, even if the woman wasn’t interested in Minott’s prosecution. “We can’t pick and choose which laws we want to enforce,” he told jurors.
O’Connor said that the woman’s willingness to carry an illegal knife suggested she might not mind breaking other laws, like committing perjury. O’Connor said the woman was protecting Minott.
Minott’s defense attorney, George Hess, said the witnesses may have “misunderstood” what happened in the dark parking lot.
Everyone has a different perception of reality,” Hess said.
He said the alleged victim wasn’t subpoenaed to court on Monday, but rather chose to come to clear her ex-boyfriend’s name. “She’s here to set things right.” He said there was “ample doubt” that Minott had committed a crime.
The jury found Minott not guilty after a brief deliberation.
After the trial, Hess said he thought the witnesses on the scene had made an incorrect assumption that Minott was the aggressor. He said he “gave the jury an alternative” version of the events.