BANGOR, Maine — A former Maine medical examiner testified Friday that two of the three people found in a burning car in August 2012 died of gunshot wounds to the head.
The third body was so badly damaged by the flames that he could not prove the man died of a gunshot wound to the head, Dr. Michael Ferenc told jurors on the second day of the trial of the two men accused of killing the trio and then setting the car they were in ablaze.
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 a rental car on Aug. 13, 2012, in the parking lot of a business located at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor. All three had been shot and then burned, according to the prosecution. 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.
All three bodies were so badly damaged by the fire they were missing limbs, Ferenc, who was deputy chief medical examiner for the state of Maine in 2012, said. He determined that Borders and Lugdon both were shot in the left sides of their heads. Bullet fragments were recovered.
Ferenc determined that Tuscano died of head trauma but found no bullet or bullet fragment. Ferenc, who now works as a medical examiner in Phoenix, told jurors he could not rule out that he also was shot in the head.
Toxicology tests showed that all three had ingested illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana and oxycodone, he testified. Lugdon also had heroin in her system.
Ferenc also said that all three were alive when they were either shot or suffered head trauma. Because none of them had inhaled soot, all three were dead when the fire was set, he said.
The medical examiner told jurors that the three were identified by DNA comparisons to relatives. Family members quietly wept as Ferenc described the condition of the “very severely burned” bodies.
Before Ferenc took the stand Friday morning, Bangor police Officer Eric Tourtelotte testified about how he assisted in removing the bodies from the car. He told jurors that the body later identified as Borders was in the front passenger seat. Lugdon and Tuscano were in the back seat. She was on the right side and he was on the left behind the empty driver’s seat, the officer, who is a member of the department’s Evidence Response Team, said.
Tourtelotte and Ferenc testified that photographs of the bodies inside the car and at the medical examiner’s office were taken. None were shown to jurors as is usually done during murder trials.
“The pictures of the victims were just too gruesome to show to the jury,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who is prosecuting the case, said after the trial adjourned for the weekend. “The cause of death was quite straightforward and Dr. Ferenc was able to explain it without them.”
On Friday afternoon, Anthony Imel, a forensic video expert with the FBI, testified about the video obtained from surveillance cameras located outside Automatic Distributors, the business where the bodies were found. Imel took the video from several cameras and created one 11-minute video shown to the jury.
It showed a car pull into the parking lot shortly after 3 a.m. About five minutes later an unidentifiable figure ran past the camera toward the road. Seconds later, flames were visible toward the back end of the parking lot where the burning car was found less than 30 minutes later.
Under cross examination by Daluz’s attorney Jeffrey Silverstein, Imel said that he could not determine the race of the individual seen running in the video.
Sexton is white. Daluz is black.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday morning with testimony from Bangor police officers and investigators with the Maine fire marshal’s office, charged with investigating arsons. The trial is expected to take three or four weeks.
Marchese declined to say Friday when Katelyn Lugdon, 19, formerly of Bangor, will take the stand. She 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 and appeared before District Court Judge Gregory Campbell on Wednesday.
Katelyn Lugdon is the sister of Nicolle Lugdon and the girlfriend of Borders. She is expected to be a key witness who may testify about the victims’ drug activities and their relationships with Sexton and Daluz.
Originally scheduled to testify Wednesday, Campbell strongly urged prosecutors to call her earlier if possible.
Lugdon remained Friday at the Penobscot County Jail, unable to post a $25,000 cash bail.
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.