BANGOR, Maine — Less than 48 hours after his arrest, a Massachusetts man on Thursday denied killing three people and setting them ablaze this past August.
Randall “ Ricky ” Daluz, 34, of Brockton, Mass., pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of arson in what police have called a drug-related crime. He made the pleas during a brief hearing at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Early Thursday morning, police in Brockton, Mass., arrested Nicholas J. Sexton, 31, of Warwick, R.I., the man Daluz reportedly told investigators was responsible for the slayings of Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon; Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington; and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford on Aug. 13 in Bangor.
As Daluz repeated the words “not guilty,” Tuscano’s 5-week-old daughter was nestled in the arms of an uncle, taking a bottle, just outside the courtroom. The girl was born 16 days after her father was killed.
About a dozen family members and friends of the victims were in court for Daluz’s arraignment. They left the courthouse without speaking to the media.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray ordered Daluz held without bail. The judge appointed attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor to represent him.
Murray said the case had been assigned to Justice William Anderson, and she was just filling in for him Thursday.
Daluz waived extradition Wednesday in a Massachusetts court and was returned to Bangor, police Sgt. Paul Edwards said. Escorted by Bangor police detectives, Daluz arrived at the Penobscot County Jail shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Sexton is fighting extradition to Maine, according to the Plymouth County, Mass., district attorney’s office. He is scheduled to appear in court in Brockton, Mass., on Oct. 31.
That could delay his return to Bangor for as long as a month or two, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, said Thursday afternoon in an email.
Marchese handled the arraignment in Bangor while Benson was taking care of another matter in Auburn.
Bangor police Lt. Tim Reid said outside the Penobscot Judicial Center that the arrests of Sexton and Daluz were the result of dogged police work by Bangor detectives and cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the Bay State.
The victims’ charred bodies were found the morning of Aug. 13 inside a car that had been set ablaze in the back parking lot of a Bangor business.
After police placed Daluz in an unmarked cruiser Tuesday to take him to police headquarters in New Bedford, Mass., he started talking about Sexton, according to Sgt. Dean Fredericks of the New Bedford Police Department.
“While en route, Daluz began talking spontaneously and told me, ‘I’m lucky to be alive, and … if he didn’t run out of bullets I’d be dead too,’” Fredericks said in court documents released Wednesday.
“ I didn’t kill anybody. Nick did it, not me,” Daluz told the sergeant. “I’m afraid of him, and I’m afraid he’s going to go after my family,” he added.
Daluz’s legal situation appears to be similar to that of a man Silverstein represented three years ago.
Justin Ptaszynski, 29, of Bangor witnessed the murder of Holly Boutilier, 19, of Oakland and Old Town on the Bangor waterfront on Aug. 8, 2009. Colin Koehler, 37, of Bangor was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing the teenager he had known less than 48 hours.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld Koehler’s conviction and sentence earlier this year.
Ptaszynski originally was charged by the Maine attorney general’s office with murder, as Daluz has been, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. He pleaded guilty to the hindering charge in May 2010 in Kennebec County Superior Court and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but six suspended.
The hindering apprehension or prosecution charge stemmed from the fact that Ptaszynski witnessed the crime but did nothing to stop it, nor did he contact police.
By pleading guilty, Ptaszynski admitted that he concealed evidence and initially lied to investigators about the chain of events and the location of the murder weapon, described in court documents as a curved, Japanese-style knife.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the state agreed to drop the murder charge on the grounds that Ptaszynski did not personally kill Boutilier, according to a previously published report. He testified against Koehler in September 2010.
Silverstein also represented Ptaszynski.
When asked if Daluz and Ptaszynski’s roles might have been comparable, the veteran defense attorney said, “It sounds that way, but I don’t know yet. I’ve got to get into it deeper.”
At an impromptu news conference outside the courthouse after Daluz’s arraignment, Silverstein said he had met with his new client for about 10 minutes, but they had not talked yet about his alleged role in the killings.