BANGOR, Maine — A local man was indicted Wednesday afternoon by the Penobscot County grand jury on one count of intentional or knowing murder.
David Coon, 50, of Bangor is charged in connection with the strangling death of his live-in girlfriend, Sherry Clifford, 49, on May 3 at the couple’s Jefferson Street apartment.
In a separate proceeding Wednesday morning, Superior Court Justice Ann Murray set bail for Clifford’s accused killer at $100,000 cash or $500,000 in property.
Coon wept throughout most of the hourlong hearing.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, opposed the request for bail.
He declined to comment on Murray’s decision. It is the practice of the Maine attorney general’s office not to comment on a case until it is concluded.
Coon’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, said after the hearing that it is unlikely that Coon would be able to post such a high bail.
Silverstein was appointed by the court to represent Coon after the judge determined the defendant could not afford to pay an attorney to represent him.
Coon remained late Wednesday at the Penobscot County Jail unable to make bail.
Clifford’s death was ruled a homicide by Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, deputy chief medical examiner, according to the affidavit filed at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
“The death was determined to be caused by asphyxiation with some neck compression,” the affidavit, signed by Bangor police Detective Brent Beaulieu, said. “Dr. Flomenbaum discovered hemorrhaging in the neck region just under the jaw bone. There was also hemorrhaging around Clifford’s hyoid bone.”
The hyoid bone is the U-shaped bone at the base of the tongue.
Coon told police that Clifford had “freaked out” and “attacked him.” He admitted that he “pinned Clifford to the floor and she told him that she could not breathe,” according to the affidavit. “Coon stated that Clifford died while pinned to the floor. Coon said that he had covered Clifford’s mouth with his hand to quiet her.”
In a subsequent interview on May 6, “Coon admitted that he was squeezing tightly on Clifford’s face and although he does not recall this, it is possible that his hand may have slid to Clifford’s neck during the incident,” the affidavit said. “Coon also admitted that this altercation may have lasted longer than five minutes as he originally stated.”
Coon called 911 about 6:37 p.m. May 3 and said that “she OD’ed or she drank herself to death,” the affidavit said. When police and Bangor rescue personnel arrived, Clifford was found dead on the floor of their apartment.
Clifford and Coon both have criminal histories, according to background checks and Bangor Daily News archives.
If convicted of murder, Coon faces 25 years to life in prison.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.