AUBURN — A witness testified Friday at a murder trial that he overheard the defendant suggest the body of the victim had been in the trunk of the car all day and he needed to dispose of it.
Friday was the fourth day of the trial of Buddy Robinson, 31, of Lewiston, in Androscoggin County Superior Court. He’s charged in the slaying of Christiana Fesmire, 22, who went missing on July 1, 2011. Her body has not been found.
Robinson’s sister, Brandi, told police that Buddy told her he killed Fesmire and dumped her body in a swampy area in the woods.
Brandi Robinson’s then-boyfriend, Levi Gervais, testified Friday about the events of July 1 and afterward. He said he overheard Robinson and her twin brother talking shortly before the three of them took a trip to Presque Isle to retrieve Buddy Robinson’s belongings at the University of Maine.
Gervais said he was in Brandi’s bedroom at her 36 Highland Ave. home when he overheard her talking to Buddy, who said: “It’s been in the trunk all day … just let me get it done.”
Gervais said he had doubted Brandi Robinson’s reports earlier that day that Buddy told her he and Fesmire had been in a fight. Fesmire had hit her head on the bathtub and Buddy had put her in the trunk of Brandi’s Lexus sedan.
Later in the day, while at work at ACS call center at the Lewiston Mall, Buddy asked Gervais if “the trash had been taken care of.”
After hearing brother and sister discussing the matter at their apartment that night, Gervais said, “my stomach instantly turned” when he realized the implications, then rushed to the bathroom.
While Gervais was in the bathroom, Buddy apparently drove off in the Lexus, Gervais said.
“The realism started to set in to me,” as he towed a U-Haul trailer northbound on the Maine Turnpike that night behind Brandi’s Cadillac SUV with her in the passenger seat, he said. He had smoked a lot of marijuana earlier in the day to help him cope with the events and he his blood sugar was getting low, he said
He said he noticed a blanket in the trunk of the Lexus, which Buddy had driven from Lewiston and parked when the three of them stopped in Augusta to spend the night. It was the same blanket that he would later observe Buddy cutting up with a knife and throwing into a campfire that weekend during a camping trip, Gervais said.
When the trio went to a local Walmart in Augusta, Buddy said he needed cleaning supplies, including a bottle of scented bleach. He also said he needed paper towels and air fresheners, Gervais said. Brandi bought the supplies, along with a knife that Buddy had asked for, presumably to cut up the blanket in which Fesmire had been wrapped, Gervais said.
On the way to Presque Isle, Gervais said he was afraid of Buddy, who sat in the back seat of Brandi’s Cadillac SUV while Gervais drove.
“I was fairly flipped out at that point,” he said.
During a camping trip later that weekend, Gervais said Brandi sold the Lexus to a couple known to her. The couple wanted to take the car on the spot, but Buddy objected, saying he had to clean it. He was told it was OK, but he insisted on cleaning it before transferring ownership, Gervais said.
Gervais said he didn’t report what he knew to police because he was afraid of Buddy, and Brandi had asked him not to.
It was only after a Maine State Police detective had told Gervais they knew he wasn’t responsible for the disappearance of Fesmire and knew who was that he began to cooperate and tell them the truth, he said.
Gervais said he had overheard Buddy say of Fesmire a couple of days before she disappeared: “That F — ing bitch, I’m gonna kill her,” when he found out she had given Brandi’s name to one of the escort clients that Brandi had arranged for Fesmire to meet.
Gervais testified Friday under terms of immunity from prosecution for perjury, marijuana use and prostitution, he told the jury.
Friday morning, Pam McLendon of South Paris testified that Brandi Robinson called her at about 9:30 a.m. July 1, 2011. “I could tell she was upset,” McLendon said. She and her boyfriend, Tim, who had a bag of marijuana to deliver to Gervais, had been planning a trip to Lewiston to visit Robinson that day.
In her phone call, Brandi Robinson asked McLendon to hurry.
“Something bad has happened and I mean that in the heavenly sense,” Robinson told her. McLendon, whose son died in a car accident in 2010, understood Robinson to mean someone had died tragically.
After arriving in Lewiston, Robinson told McLendon that Buddy had gotten into a pushing match with Fesmire, who fell and bumped her head on the bathtub. Brandi made it clear that it was too late for an ambulance.
McLendon urged her to let the body be recovered, but Brandi said she was worried about Buddy. She didn’t want him to get into trouble.
“The body needs to be found,” McLendon said she told Brandi.
“I told her she needed to keep her hands as clean as possible” and think about her son, Michael, McLendon said.
She said she was skeptical because Brandi had told tales before. She asked to see the first-floor apartment where Fesmire had stayed and was apparently killed.
She saw nothing unusual in the apartment, but she noticed a bucket in the basement next to the furnace filled with a liquid that had a pinkish hue, she said.
Defense attorney Edward “Ted” Dilworth cross-examined Gervais and McLendon, questioning their memories of events.
He asked McLendon whether she had told a police detective that Brandi was a “pathological liar.” McLendon said she had.
Dilworth asked Gervais whether he had been coached by Brandi in reconstructing his memory of events from those days. Gervais said a police detective had suggested he write down his memories of the events, and he solicited Brandi’s help with one of those notes.
The fifth day of the trial is scheduled for Tuesday.