BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court justice will decide if a Bangor transient was defending himself or others when he stabbed Andy Smith in the heart on First Street in the early morning hours of May 22, 2012.
Jason Trickett, 42, is charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Smith, 38, of Bangor after a party that included alcohol and drugs at a 71 First St. apartment. Trickett admitted to Bangor police that he stabbed the victim after Smith got into a fist fight with one of two women who lived at the apartment, according to court documents.
Trickett’s jury-waived trial began Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center before Superior Court Justice William Anderson.
Sarah Denbow, 29, of Bangor lived at 71 First St. at the time of the stabbing. Denbow testified Monday that she and friends, including Trickett, had been drinking and partying that day when Smith showed up shortly after midnight “drunk and belligerent.”
Denbow said that she and her friends had “been drinking all day” and that she had consumed a 12-pack of beer. She testified that some people injected drugs but said she did not. Denbow said she did not know what drug or drugs people were using.
She testified that she kicked Smith out of the apartment because he was fighting with a male guest, but he continued to shout at people inside from the street and pounded on windows. Denbow said that Smith woke up Samantha Bell, her roommate.
“Andy was out of control,” Denbow testified.
Bell went outside to try to get Smith to quiet down, but wound up in a fist fight with him in the street, Denbow told the judge. Denbow described her roommate as “a big girl” who could handle herself, but when she looked out a window and saw Bell was on the ground in the middle of the street and Smith was bent over and hitting Bell, she took action.
Denbow headed outside and told Smith to stop the assault. When he did not stop hitting Bell, she ran back inside and grabbed from the hall “a piece of railing” that had been attached to a kitchen countertop.
The “railing” was described by the prosecution and defense as two 2-by-4s nailed together.
“I yelled at him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop,” Denbow testified Monday. “I hit him in the back with it.”
Smith turned on Denbow and they struggled over the railing. He managed to get behind her, she said. Smith was holding the railing against her chest but suddenly pulled it up above her head after a few seconds. She went to assist Bell.
Denbow said that she did not witness the stabbing, but saw Smith stumble to a neighboring apartment house. She said she was not sure when or if Trickett came out of the apartment and into the street.
Denbow, who has convictions for theft and trafficking in prison contraband, said when the police arrived she fled because there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest.
Bangor police officers and forensic experts took the stand Monday afternoon.
Erin Miragliuolo, a forensic DNA analyst at the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory, testified that DNA from the railing matched DNA profiles for Smith and Denbow.
No DNA or blood was found on the knife, described as the murder weapon. It was recovered from the kitchen trash in Denbow’s apartment, Detective Eric Tourtelotte testified.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, said in his opening statement that Trickett told police he “accidentally stabbed” Smith and never claimed previously that he acted in self-defense.
Trickett killed Smith while defending himself and others involved in the fight, defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor told the judge in his opening statement.
The trial is scheduled to last three days. Anderson could announce his verdict at the end of the trial or take the matter under advisement and issue a written ruling at a later date.
Trickett has been held at the Penobscot County Jail unable to post $50,000 cash bail since his arrest two weeks after Smith’s death.
If convicted of manslaughter, Trickett faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.