BANGOR, Maine — A second man pleaded not guilty Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to slaying three people this summer, then setting them ablaze in a rental car in what police have called a grisly, drug-related triple homicide.
Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter ordered that Nicholas J. Sexton, 31, of Warwick, R.I., be held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail until a bail hearing can be scheduled.
Sexton appeared in a second-floor courtroom dressed in a red jail-issued jumpsuit. His feet were shackled. Sexton’s wrists were handcuffed and secured to a chain around his waist.
The red outfit indicated he is being held in the maximum security section of the jail.
Hunter filled in Monday for Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who has been assigned to preside over the case.
Sexton and Randall “Ricky” Daluz, 34, of Brockton, Mass., are charged in connection with the deaths 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.
Daluz and Sexton were indicted in September by a Penobscot County grand jury on three counts each of intentional or knowing murder and one count each of arson.
The judge asked Sexton how he pleaded to all charges.
“Not guilty,” said the defendant, flanked by his court-appointed attorneys, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth and David Bate of Bangor.
Hunter said he would leave it up to Anderson to schedule a bail hearing. Toothaker did not object to continuing the hearing, but said that Sexton most likely would be unable to make the high bail typically set in murder cases.
Relatives of the victims attended Monday’s brief hearing but declined to be interviewed by reporters.
A trial date has not been set. The Maine attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the cases, has asked that the two men be tried together. The judge has not issued his decision on that motion.
Sexton’s attorneys and Jeffrey Silverstein, who represents Daluz, have said they would oppose a motion for a joint trial.
“We would be opposed to a dual trial,” Bate said Monday at an impromptu press conference outside the courthouse. “We are in the very early stages of this case. We have not received one single police report.”
Bate declined to discuss Sexton’s state of mind.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea handled Monday’s hearing for her colleagues Andrew Benson and Lisa Marchese, who have been assigned to prosecute the case. Because she is not prosecuting Sexton and Daluz, Zainea declined to be interviewed about the case.
Sexton was arrested at gunpoint on Oct. 4 in Brockton, Mass., and initially said he would fight extradition but waived his rights in Brockton District Court on Wednesday, according to a previous report. He was returned to Maine on Thursday by two Bangor police detectives and has been held at Penobscot County Jail since then.
Daluz denied his role in the killings when he pleaded not guilty Oct. 4 to the charges against him at the Penobscot Judicial Center. He was denied bail by Anderson.
When arrested on Oct. 2 in New Bedford, Mass., Daluz told police there that he didn’t kill anyone and blamed Sexton for pulling the trigger on Borders, Lugdon and Tuscano, according to a previous report.
A bail hearing for Daluz has not been scheduled.
Bangor police Detective Paul Kenison declined Monday to say whether Sexton had spoken with investigators in Massachusetts or Maine about the killings.
“It is a good feeling to have both suspects back in Maine and in custody,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.
The three victims died of gunshot wounds, police have said, and their charred bodies were found by firefighters on Aug. 13 inside a white Pontiac sedan, rented by Sexton, that had been set ablaze in the back parking lot of Automatic Distributors at 22 Target Industrial Circle, according to a previous report.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.