BANGOR, Maine — The two men accused of killing three Penobscot County residents in 2012, then setting the car in which they were shot ablaze, will be tried together in front of one jury, a Superior Court judge has ruled.
Jury selection will begin Monday, April 28, at the Penobscot Judicial Center, Justice William Anderson said last month. The trial of Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, R.I., and Randall “Ricky “ Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Mass., will begin as soon as jurors are seated. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.
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.
Attorneys for the defendants asked that the men be tried separately, with Sexton being tried first and Daluz second. Anderson also considered trying the men at the same time with two separate juries but rejected that idea, too.
Anderson issued his decision Tuesday, less than a month after the Maine attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, said it 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, 2012, in Brockton, Mass. He was transferred to Maine a month later but did not make statements to police that would incriminate himself or others, according to court documents.
Anderson said in his order that he would not admit “any meaningful evidence admissible only against one defendant.”
“The defendants have demonstrated a fair probability that (a) each may accuse the other of killing the victims, or (b) Sexton would present evidence of an alternate suspect while Daluz, in some fashion, points to Sexton as the perpetrator,” Anderson wrote in his ruling ordering one trial.
“Under either scenario, one co-defendant’s defense would be so inconsistent with the other that the jury’s belief in one co-defendant, or that co-defendant’s case, would necessarily constitute a rejection of the testimony or case of the other,” the judge wrote. “Additionally, one co-defendant could, to an extent, become a second prosecutor against the other.”
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese declined Friday to comment on the judge’s decisions. Efforts to reach Sexton’s attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday.
“Having a joint trial creates the risk of prejudice against my client,” Bangor attorney Jeffrey Silverstein, who represents Daluz, said Thursday. “We believe that there could be spillover and taint from evidence presented against Daluz.”
Silverstein declined to say whether Daluz would take the stand in his own defense.
Anderson said in his order that he would “aggressively instruct the jurors that they are to independently evaluate the evidence admitted against each defendant.”
The judge also ruled that the men’s cellphone records, used by police to help track their movements, before, during and after the slayings, may be admitted as evidence during the trial.
If convicted, Daluz and Sexton each faces 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.