BANGOR, Maine — The jurors who will decide if two men are guilty of killing three people and setting the car they were in on fire filed out of a blue bus and stood in the cold drizzle Thursday afternoon in a parking lot at 22 Target Industrial Circle just off outer Hammond Street.
Four orange cones, arranged in the shape of a rectangle behind Automatic Distributors, had been set up earlier by Bangor police to mark the spot where a car was found on fire at about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 13, 2012.
The charred bodies of Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford were found in the car. All three had been shot and then burned. Investigators have described the slayings as a drug deal gone bad.
Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Randall “Ricky” Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, have pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of arson. Their trial before a jury of eight women and eight men, including four alternates, began Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center with opening statements.
Jurors ended the first day of a trial expected to last three to four weeks touring sites that will be discussed by witnesses. The jury was driven to the Ramada Inn on Odlin Road, where Sexton reportedly stayed; 15 Bolling Drive, the apartment where Sexton and Daluz allegedly picked up the victims; Carolina’s Bar & Grill under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, where the two suspects were seen together; and a spot on the Penobscot River Bank at Boyd and Hancock streets, where guns and ammunition believed to be used in the crimes were found in March 2013.
In her opening statement, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said that all three victims used and sold drugs, including heroin, oxycodone and marijuana. She said the night the three were killed, they had communicated with Sexton, who was at Carolina’s with Daluz, about buying “some Perc 30s,” the street name for Percocet, a prescription drug containing oxycodone and acetaminophen. The victims allegedly ended up obtaining the drug from someone else.
“This is a case about the sale of drugs,” the prosecutor told jurors. “It is about loyalty, and it is about money.”
Sexton’s attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, told the jury that their job was “to grade the state’s case.” He also urged them to “pay attention to the details.”
“There are some questions I want you to ponder,” Toothaker told jurors in his opening statement. “Is everyone accused of a crime, guilty? Is the state ever wrong? Are innocent people ever convicted?”
Bangor attorney Hunter Tzovarras, who represents Daluz, said the state has no evidence that his client was with Sexton between 11 p.m., when the victims were reportedly picked up by Sexton, and shortly after 3 a.m., when the car was set ablaze.
“They would have you believe that because Randall Daluz is associated with Nicholas Sexton, he’s guilty,” Tzovarras said. “In our justice system, there’s no such crime as guilt by association.”
On Friday, Dr. Michael Ferenc, the medical examiner who performed the autopsies on the victims, is scheduled to take the stand. Ferenc lives and works in Phoenix.
On Wednesday, a key witness in the case appeared before a judge on the first floor of the Penobscot Judicial Center, accused of refusing to show up for a pretrial meeting Monday with prosecutors.
Katelyn Lugdon, 19, formerly of Bangor, was arrested earlier this week in Saugus, Massachusetts, on a charge of failure to appear as a state’s witness. She was taken to Bangor on Tuesday.
While jury selection was taking place Wednesday afternoon, District Court Judge Gregory Campbell set bail for Katelyn Lugdon at $25,000, but he urged Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman to call her to testify as early as possible. Cashman said Lugdon was scheduled to testify May 7 but could be called earlier next week.
Lugdon remained at the Penobscot County Jail on Thursday, unable to post bail.
Cashman told Campbell that Lugdon was a key witness in the case because of her relationship with two of the three victims. She is the sister of Nicolle Lugdon and Borders’ girlfriend.
Marchese said Wednesday as court adjourned for the day that no other warrants had been issued for the other 106 potential witnesses for the prosecution.
If convicted of failure to appear as a state’s witness, Lugdon faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Sexton and Daluz each face between 25 years and life in prison if convicted. The men are being held without bail at separate facilities.