BANGOR, Maine — The two men accused of killing three Penobscot County residents in 2012 then setting the car in which they were shot on fire most likely will be tried together in front of one jury in late April.
Although Superior Court Justice William Anderson has not yet ruled on a defense motion to try Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, R.I., and Randall “Ricky” Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Mass., separately, the prosecution appeared Wednesday to have taken away the defense’s best argument by agreeing not to introduce statements Daluz and others made implicating Sexton as the shooter.
Sexton and Daluz have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in connection with the deaths of Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford on Aug. 12 or 13, 2012. Investigators have described the slayings as a drug deal gone bad.
The bullet-riddled bodies of the victims were found burned inside a white Pontiac sedan with Rhode Island plates that was discovered on fire early Aug. 13, 2012, in the back parking lot of Automatic Distributors, located at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor. The car had been rented by Sexton.
At a hearing Wednesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center, Anderson set jury selection for Monday, April 28, with the trial to begin as soon as the jurors are seated. The judge also set deadlines for pre-trial motions and for attorneys to suggest questions they wanted put to potential jurors.
Although Anderson gave lead defense attorneys until Wednesday to find legal precedents to support their arguments for separate trials, now that the state has said it will not use certain statements, he set one trial date, not two.
Last August, when Anderson held a hearing on the defense motion for separate trials and a prosecution motion for a single trial, the prosecution floated the idea of trying Sexton and Daluz together with two juries, one for each defendant.
Assistant Attorneys General Lisa Marchese and Deb Cashman last week filed a motion to reconsider the one they filed last summer. Marchese told Anderson on Wednesday that the prosecution would not introduce statements Daluz allegedly made to police when he was arrested and to his fellow inmates since he has been held without bail.
Daluz, who is nicknamed “Money,” was arrested Oct. 2, 2012, in New Bedford, Mass., according to a previously published report. After police placed him in an unmarked cruiser to take him to New Bedford police headquarters, he started talking about Sexton, according to Sgt. Dean Fredericks of the New Bedford Police Department.
“While en route, Daluz began talking spontaneously and told me, ‘I’m lucky to be alive, and if he didn’t run out of bullets I’d be dead too,’” Fredericks said in court documents released Oct. 3, 2012.
“I didn’t kill anybody. Nick did it, not me,” Daluz reportedly told the sergeant. “I’m afraid of him, and I’m afraid he’s going to go after my family.”
Sexton was arrested at gunpoint on Oct. 4 in Brockton, Mass. He was transferred to Maine a month later but did not make statements to police that would incriminate himself or others in the crime, according to court documents.
Marchese on Wednesday compared a joint trial of Sexton and Daluz to the joint trial of Darlene George and her brother Jeffrey Williams, who were found guilty by a York County jury in June 2010 of the murder of George’s husband, Winston George of Old Orchard Beach two years earlier.
Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, who represents Daluz, and Sexton’s attorney Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth argued that the fairest way to try the defendants is separately.
“We feel we can do better without [Daluz] in the room, without the other evidence that will come in,” Toothaker said outside the courthouse. “It’s just better for our client to have his own trial. There are statements out there that are not helpful and that’s what we’re getting around.”
Toothaker said he expected the trial to last two to three weeks.
In addition to the motions for separate trials, Anderson also has yet to rule on a defense motion to suppress the men’s cellphone records that were obtained without a warrant.
If convicted, Daluz and Sexton each face 25 years to life in prison on each of the three murder charges.
They are being held without bail but in separate facilities. Sexton is being held at the Penobscot County Jail. Daluz is housed at the Maine State Prison in Warren.