SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The murder trial of Robert Lee Nelson was continued to Monday so the state could try to find more evidence — a bullet slug in a sand pit.
Nelson, 41, of Anson is accused of shooting Everett L. Cameron, 60, to death on Oct. 31, 2009, as Cameron sat in his pickup truck on the Town Farm Road in North Anson. The location was not far from Cameron’s home in North Anson.
Nelson waived his right to a jury trial. Instead, Justice John Nivison will render a verdict in the case in Somerset County Superior Court.
After more than 2½ hours of delays Friday morning, Nivison said the trial would be continued until next week.
“This morning, some evidentiary issues were brought to my attention,” Nivison said to the court. “They need to be resolved before the case can continue.”
Defense attorney John Alsop of Skowhegan said police are now searching a sand pit in the Kingfield and Salem Township area in the hopes of finding a bullet slug that may match that taken from the victim.
“They got information that a gun was fired on that location and a bullet may match to the one taken from [the victim’s] head,” Alsop said outside the courtroom.
Nivison said he expected the evidentiary issue to be resolved by the time the case resumes at 9 a.m. Monday.
Not all was lost on Friday as Nivison allowed two witnesses to testify out of order.
Defense witness Cathy Sleeper of North Anson testified that she saw a white vehicle parked next to Cameron’s truck on the Town Farm Road between 1 and 2 p.m. Oct. 31, 2009, the afternoon Cameron was killed.
“We turned onto Town Farm Road and, on the right, was a white car sitting there with the door open and a foot sticking out the door,” said Sleeper. “It looked like someone was reaching in on the passenger side.”
Sleeper said she didn’t know who the driver of the pickup truck was at the time, but had often seen it around the neighborhood. The driver was Cameron. She also identified the spot where she saw the truck as the same place where the murder took place.
Sleeper added that she wasn’t wearing a watch at that time.
Both the prosecution and defense agree that Cameron had been selling 30-milligram oxycodone pills that were prescribed to him. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2004.
Sleeper’s husband, Matthew Sleeper, testified on behalf of the state that he saw the white car, but also saw a blue Dodge Intrepid with a brown door. According to evidence introduced at the trial, Nelson’s car at the time matched that description.
“I saw a white car and Everett’s pickup,” said Matthew Sleeper, who was in the same vehicle with his wife that day.
Sleeper said on Nov. 1, 2009, the day after the murder, that he saw only the white car.
Nelson’s other defense attorney, Philip Mohlar of Skowhegan, asked him if his memory of that day was better the day after the murder or three years later when he was questioned by the state.
“Three years later,” said Matthew Sleeper, adding that a comment from his son-in-law rekindled his memory.
“That’s right, there was a blue car,” he said, referring to the conversation with his son-in-law.
Nelson’s attorneys have maintained that although Nelson met with Cameron on the afternoon of the shooting, someone else shot and killed Cameron. The state has presented no DNA, physical evidence or murder weapon to link Nelson to the crime.
Nelson told police that he met with Cameron that afternoon in order to tell him that he couldn’t repay the $35 he owed Cameron for an oxycodone pill Cameron had given him earlier.
Bryce Dunphy, who lives near the crime scene, said he heard a nearby gunshot at 2:15 p.m. Oct. 31, 2009. Cameron’s body was not found until about 4 p.m.
Maine Assistant Attorneys General Leane Zainea and Donald Macomber rested the state’s case against Nelson on Thursday.
The trial will resume on Monday.