Rockland jury acquits man in restraint trial

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 18, 2013, at 12:47 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Knox County jury deliberated for about an hour Friday before acquitting a 40-year-old man accused of criminal restraint for refusing to drop off his former female friend at Moody’s Diner and taking her to Thomaston instead following their split.

The criminal restraint trial against William H. Coombs IV of Edgecomb opened Friday morning in Knox County Superior Court with two dramatically different stories.

The prosecutor said the case was about a boyfriend displaying ultimate control while the defense said the case was the result of the overly dramatic personalities of the woman and her new boyfriend.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody told jurors that Coombs and the woman, listed as the victim in the case, had dated throughout 2011. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the woman because she is considered a victim. By the end of the year, she wanted out of the relationship and on Dec. 17, 2011, went to Coombs’ home to pick up some of her belongings, Baroody said.

Coombs agreed to drop her off at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, where she would then meet up with friends, the prosecutor said.

Instead, Coombs refused to stop at Moody’s and continued to drive and refused to stop until he got to the parking lot of Lowe’s home improvement store in Thomaston, Baroody said. The woman had texted her new boyfriend about the situation from the car and he contacted police, who arrived on the scene and ultimately charged Coombs with criminal restraint.

Baroody said it is criminal restraint when you remove someone from where they want to be against the person’s will.

Defense attorney Jonathan Handelman said, however, that this case was unusual in that it involved numerous text messages by the woman during the ride from Edgecomb to Thomaston.

Handelman said Coombs had confronted his then-fiancee that day after she had stayed out the previous night. He said Coombs made two mistakes — first he logged on to her Facebook page and posted a statement in which she appeared to confess to cheating on him. He then changed her password so she couldn’t delete it. Handelman said the second mistake Coombs made was giving her a ride.

The woman had asked for a ride to Moody’s so she could meet up with the other man, but Coombs told her he was going to Rockland and she could go there or not get a ride at all, the defense attorney said.

She was texting throughout the ride and at no time did she ask for help, Handelman said. Coombs even pulled off the road once and told her she could get out if she wanted but she did not, the defense lawyer said.

When she texted her new boyfriend that he would not stop at Moody’s, the boyfriend contacted police, who met up with the vehicle at Lowe’s.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm presided over the trial.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/18/news/midcoast/rockland-jury-hears-testimony-in-criminal-restraint-trial/ printed on July 23, 2014