Jury renders split verdict in drug trial of Hermon man who killed intruder

Daniel Williams (left) and his attorney Kirk Bloomer listen to opening statements by Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson at the start of his trial on drug charges at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Tuesday. Williams pleaded not guilty to all of the charges back in May 2012.
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Daniel Williams (left) and his attorney Kirk Bloomer listen to opening statements by Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson at the start of his trial on drug charges at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Tuesday. Williams pleaded not guilty to all of the charges back in May 2012. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 24, 2013, at 9 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 24, 2013, at 7:23 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A jury of 11 men and one woman delivered a split verdict Thursday in the drug trial of a Hermon man who in February shot and killed a Bangor man and injured his friend during a reported home invasion.

Jurors found Daniel Williams, 25, not guilty of felony trafficking in bath salts, Ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms and cocaine, but guilty of misdemeanor drug possession charges after deliberating for about three hours, Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson said in a text message.

District Court Judge Bruce Jordan, who presided over the three-day trial, scheduled Williams’ sentencing for Friday, Feb. 1.

Williams pleaded not guilty in July to aggravated drug trafficking in scheduled drugs (Ecstasy), aggravated trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs (bath salts), both Class A crimes; aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs, a Class B crime; and two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs (mushrooms and cocaine) and unlawful possession of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs (bath salts), all Class D crimes.

Williams faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 on the Class D charges. If he had been convicted of the most serious trafficking charges, he could have faced up to 30 years in prison.

He remains free on $5,000 cash bail while awaiting sentencing.

Defense attorney Kirk Bloomer of Bangor said after the verdict was announced that his client was “very happy, very pleased with the result.”

Larson declined to comment on the case after the verdict. It is the practice of the Maine attorney general’s office not to comment on cases until they have been resolved.

In addition to the criminal charges, the prosecution filed motions asking that Williams be ordered to forfeit cash and guns found in his apartment at the time of his arrest. Williams agreed before the trial started to have the judge, not the jury, decide the forfeiture counts after the jury had reached a verdict.

Bloomer said after the verdict that Jordan ordered Williams to forfeit the gun but took the forfeiture of the cash under advisement.

The trial began Tuesday with testimony from investigators and witness Jennifer Vachon of Orrington. She was granted immunity from prosecution on drug charges.

In closing arguments to the jury, both sides referred to Vachon’s testimony and addressed her credibility as a witness. Larson, who is prosecuting the case, said she told the jury she bought drugs from Williams the day before the shooting and was with the people who broke into his home but stayed in the car.

Williams admitted knowing Vachon but denied selling her drugs, the prosecutor said Thursday. Larson told the jury that Vachon testified that the packaging items, including 200 small plastic bags, found in a safe in Williams’ closet were the same kind that were used to package the drugs she purchased from the defendant.

Defense attorney Bloomer said in his closing that because Vachon testified that she bought the drugs on Feb. 22, the day she was interviewed over the telephone by a deputy with the Penobscot County sheriff’s office, rather than on Feb. 15, the day before the shooting, jurors should disregard her entire testimony. Bloomer described her as disheveled and with red and sunken eyes.

Larson, in his rebuttal, said she has been employed for five months as a hostess at a restaurant in Bangor. He said she could not have kept her job if she were using drugs as Bloomer implied.

“She was stressed because of coming here to testify,” the prosecutor said.

Bloomer told jurors that Williams had the gun in his nightstand, not in the safes in his closet where the drugs and what Larson called drug trafficking paraphernalia were found.

“If you’re going to have a gun, you are going to have it ready, not in a closet with the drugs,” the prosecutor countered. “”You’re going to have it close by.”

Larson told jurors that Williams had the gun to protect his drugs and $2,500 in cash found with the drugs in a safe.

Bloomer said the cash was from Williams’ recently started music business where he organized and presented shows which people paid cash to attend.

On Feb. 16, 2012, Williams used a .22-caliber handgun to fatally shoot Robert Dellairo, 30, of Bangor and wound Philip McIntyre, 19, also of Bangor in the leg during a reported home invasion, Williams told the Bangor Daily News shortly afterward.

In his instructions to the jury, the judge said that under Maine law Williams was justified in using deadly force against the intruders, Bloomer said.

McIntyre did not testify against Williams. He could be charged with robbery and burglary in connection with the shooting, Bloomer said.

Williams would testify against McIntyre if he were charged and decided to go to trial, the attorney said.

Before the trial began Williams rejected a plea offer from the prosecution that would have dropped all but the Ecstasy trafficking charge and reduced that count from a Class A to a Class B crime in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea.

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