Verdict in First Street stabbing trial now in judge’s hands

Posted Sept. 11, 2013, at 1:08 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court judge did not decide Wednesday if a local transient is guilty or innocent of manslaughter in the death of Andy Smith, 38, of Bangor on May 22, 2012.

Justice William Anderson said he would rule in the case of Jason Trickett, 42, before Sept. 24 but did not set a specific date. The judge made his announcement after closing arguments and 2½ days of testimony at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

It is not unusual for a judge to take a matter under advisement in jury-waived trials.

Trickett was charged in June 2012 with manslaughter in connection with the stabbing death of Smith on First Street. He did not take the stand Wednesday but his attorneys argued that Trickett acted in self-defense.

“To claim self-defense Mr. Trickett had to believe that Andy Smith was going to use unlawful deadly force against him or others and he had to believe that he had to use deadly force to defend himself or others,” Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said in his closing statement. “The evidence simply does not show that.”

Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor disagreed in his closing statement.

“There is no evidence that Andy was unarmed or not violent,” Tzovarras said. “All the evidence shows that he was on a rampage that night, assaulting everyone.”

Recordings of police interviews with Trickett on June 4 and 5 in which he confessed to stabbing Smith were played for Anderson Wednesday.

Trickett told police that he did not deliberately stab and kill the 38-year-old man during a brawl on First Street 16 months ago.

“Whether it was an accident or self-defense or whatever, I didn’t mean to do it,” Jason Trickett, a transient, told Bangor police detectives Brent Beaulieu and Tim Cotton on June 4, 2012.

“I didn’t want to stab him, I just wanted to push him down,” a crying Trickett told police during the interview, which took place in the detectives’ car in a store parking lot on the corner of State Street and Broadway in Bangor.

In his first interview with police on May 22, 2012, Trickett denied stabbing Smith.

In an interview the next day at the police station, Trickett said that he did not realize how badly Smith was hurt until he saw a large amount of blood in the doorway of the neighboring apartment house. Eugene Cox, 43, of Hermon, who lived at 69 First St. in May 2012, testified Tuesday that a mortally wounded Smith came through the door of his apartment house and fell into his arms.

Trickett told police he got the knife from the apartment at 71 First St. where he and others were partying the night of May 21 and the early morning hours of May 22, 2012. He said there were knives “lying around” the apartment.

Partygoers testified Monday and Tuesday that a group of up to a dozen people had been drinking all day May 21, 2012, and were falling asleep when Smith showed up drunk after midnight on May 22, 2012. The women who lived in the apartment kicked him out but Smith pounded on the door and banged on the windows.

“Andy was out of control,” Sarah Denbow, 29, of Bangor, who lived in the apartment, testified Monday.

Her roommate, Samantha Bell, confronted Smith in the middle of First Street. The two were in a fist fight when Denbow intervened with a piece of railing from a kitchen counter that she hit Smith on the back with, she told the judge. Trickett told police he got involved when Smith turned on Denbow.

Benson told the judge in his closing that Trickett did not get involved in the fight to protect the women as his defense attorney claimed. He got involved for the same reason other partygoers did — retribution, the prosecutor said.

“He went out there to stab Andy Smith,” Benson said. “He didn’t go out there to defend the womenfolk.”

Tzovarras said that Trickett told police more than once that “Andy was coming at him with the [railing]. Andy’s blood was found on the [railing]. That suggests he was holding it when he was stabbed.”

Trickett was arrested June 8, 2012, and charged with manslaughter in connection with Smith’s death

Smith died of a stab wound to the heart, according to a stipulation submitted to the judge. His blood alcohol level at the time of his death was .16, or twice the legal limit to operate legally a vehicle.

Trickett has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest June 8, 2012, unable to post $50,000 bail. He will continue to be held without bail unless he is acquitted.

If convicted, Trickett faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/11/news/bangor/man-on-trial-in-first-street-stabbing-death-will-not-take-the-stand/ printed on April 16, 2014