BANGOR, Maine — A man police described as a transient was found not guilty of manslaughter Monday afternoon in the stabbing death of Andy Smith, 38, of Bangor, during a fight on First Street last year.
Jason Trickett, 42, heaved a sigh of relief as Superior Court Justice William Anderson announced his verdict at about 3 p.m. at the Penobscot Judicial Center. Anderson took the case under advisement Sept. 11, after hearing 2½ days of testimony in the jury-waived trial.
Smith’s family members hugged each other and wept in the courtroom after the verdict was announced. Across the aisle, Trickett’s mother and sister wiped away tears.
Family members of the victim and defendant left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
In announcing his verdict, Anderson said that he was persuaded by the defense team’s argument that Trickett acted in self-defense when he stabbed Smith in the heart on May 22, 2012.
The judge said the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Trickett’s actions that night were, as the law required, a gross deviation from the reasonable conduct a different individual might have engaged in under similar circumstances. Anderson also said the state had not disproved that Trickett acted in self-defense as the law required for a guilty verdict.
Defense attorney Marvin Glazier of Bangor said outside the courthouse that Trickett was “very relieved this is over.” He described his client as “sad and remorseful” concerning Smith’s death.
Bangor attorney Hunter Tzovarras also defended Trickett.
“I am disappointed with the verdict,” Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who prosecuted the case, said after the verdict was announced. “We knew from the beginning that this was a factually difficult case.”
Trickett was released from the Penobscot County Jail before 5 p.m. Monday, according to jail personnel. He had been held at the jail since his arrest June 8, 2012, unable to post $50,000 cash bail.
Recordings of police interviews with Trickett on June 4 and 5, 2012, in which he confessed to stabbing Smith, were played for the judge during the trial.
Trickett told police that he did not deliberately stab and kill Smith during the brawl 16 months ago.
“Whether it was an accident or self-defense or whatever, I didn’t mean to do it,” Trickett 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.
Smith died of a stab wound to the heart, according to a stipulation submitted to the judge at the trial. His blood alcohol level at the time of his death was 0.16, or twice the legal limit to operate a vehicle.
If he had been convicted, Trickett faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.