DNA found on lighter in Norway arson, attempted murder trial

Posted Sept. 26, 2012, at 6:40 a.m.
Andrew Freeman
Oxford County Jail
Andrew Freeman

PARIS, Maine — A forensic DNA analyst for the Maine State Police Crime Lab testified Tuesday that Andrew J. Freeman’s DNA was found on a milk jug in the basement of the Norway house he’s accused of torching last year.

Freeman, 22, of Paris is on trial in Oxford County Superior Court on two charges of aggravated attempted murder, arson and burglary. He is accused of setting fire to the basement of the home of his ex-girlfriend and her grandparents Edgar and Sandra McLeod at 684 Round the Pond Road at about 5 a.m. Dec. 5, 2011. It was the day after the 17-year-old girl broke up with him, according to testimony.

On the trial’s second day Tuesday, Cathy MacMillan, a forensic DNA analyst at the State Crime Lab, said Freeman’s DNA was found on a milk jug in the McLeods’ basement, near where the fire started, and on a lighter found at Freeman’s relatives’ house nearby.

On Monday, witnesses said a jug of milk and a box of doughnuts that had been in the kitchen of the McLeods’ house the night before the fire were found in the basement the next morning. The milk jug was empty.

It tested positive for Freeman’s DNA.

Also Monday, Freeman’s aunt, who lives near the McLeod home, testified Freeman showed up at her house about an hour after the fire. She and her husband later found a lighter outside their house and it matched one of three from the McLeod’s house that went missing the night of the fire.

Investigator Daniel Young of the state fire marshal’s office testified Tuesday that Freeman was a person of interest after the fire, which was quickly extinguished, because the the recent break-up and because of messages spray painted in the basement reading “bye” and telling the girl to “die.”

During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Joseph O’Connor, Young said he interviewed Freeman shortly after the fire. He recalled Freeman telling him he’d spent the night and early morning helping two friends named Stephen and Kyle move into a house Freeman said was three to six miles from his aunt and uncle’s home on Morse Road, which is near the fire scene.

According to Young, Freeman didn’t know the last names of the two friends or the address of the home where he spent the night moving boxes.

Young said Freeman eventually decided it was three to six miles down Morse Road. However, Young said the road comes to a dead end less than a mile away.

Young also recounted getting a warrant to take a DNA sample from Freeman. Upon announcing himself at Freeman’s apartment in Paris, the investigator said Freeman told him to wait before opening the door.

Young, concerned that Freeman was trying to escape, followed him and kicked in the door to the room, which turned out to be a bathroom with three or four other men in it. Two of those men were Anthony Coburn, 18, and Justin Haas, 18, who testified Monday that Freeman had asked another friend there for saliva to put it into his mouth to “outsmart” a DNA test.

Young said he didn’t witness that happening and took a swab from inside Freeman’s mouth for DNA testing. He said he sent it to the state lab, along with other items from the cellar and the lighter found near Freeman’s aunt and uncle’s home.

After the state rested its case, defense attorney Sarah Glynn called just one witness, Tyler Grant 18, who said he gave Freeman a ride to the McLeods’ house the week before the fire. His testimony implied that the DNA could have been left at that time. Also, earlier testimony revealed that Freeman had been at the McLeod house for Thanksgiving.

Freeman did not testify.

Both sides will make closing arguments Wednesday.

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