BANGOR, Maine — The judge presiding over a triple murder trial sent the jury home early Monday so he and attorneys involved in the case could gain a better understanding of testimony to be given by key witness Katelyn Lugdon, sister of one victim and the girlfriend of another.
Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Randall “Ricky” Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, are standing trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center on three counts of murder and one count of arson in the deaths of Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford. Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The three victims were shot and their charred bodies were found inside a rental car discovered on fire in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2012, in the back parking lot of a business located at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor.
Katelyn Lugdon, 19, is Nicolle Lugdon’s sister and was dating Borders. She once lived in Bangor but was arrested last week in Saugus, Massachusetts, on a charge of failure to appear as a state’s witness and was returned to Maine. She has been held at the Penobscot County Jail. Lugdon is expected to take the stand in front of jurors at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“There are quite a few things I have to sort out in this case,” Justice William Anderson said, explaining in court why he sent the jury home at approximately 1:50 p.m. He offered no further reasons for the move.
Lugdon, a petite woman wearing a black flowered shirt and short leather jacket over white leggings and canvas shoes, took the stand without the jury present to answer questions from attorneys about interviews she had done on May 1 with Bangor police Detective Tim Shaw and Victor Kraft, a Bangor-based private investigator working for Daluz’s defense team.
Bangor attorneys Jeffrey Silverstein and Hunter Tzovarras are representing Daluz, and Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth and David Bate of Bangor are representing Sexton.
Lugdon said on the stand she had asked to speak with Detective Shaw and was surprised when she was escorted to a room in the jail where Kraft was waiting, who she said she did not recognize and who she thought was Silverstein.
When asked by Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, if Silverstein was in the courtroom, she said, “No.”
Silverstein, who was sitting at the defense table directly in front of her Monday, rocked in his chair as she answered.
“[Kraft] told me he was on Ricky’s defense team. All he did was read my statements and ask if they were true,” Lugdon told Anderson about the interview. “I told him, ‘Yes.’”
Most of the other questions posed to Lugdon on the stand centered on her descriptions of two guns that she said she saw in the possession of Sexton and Daluz at the Village Green Motor Inn in Brewer just before the killings.
The defense teams took issue with Shaw showing Lugdon on May 1 images of guns taken as evidence, and Anderson upheld an objection by Bate when Cashman wanted to use the same pictures, saying he may have to rule on the issue tomorrow.
“I described what [the guns] looked like to a T,” before she was shown the evidence pictures during last week’s meeting, Lugdon said on the stand.
She then described the guns to the judge, saying “they’re both small, but they were a little bit different,” with one being a silver gun with two barrels and the other one being darker in color.
“The first one was on the bed and then he [Sexton] put it into [the waist of his pants],” she said. “[The other one] I saw Ricky handling it — Daluz.”
“Did you share this information with Victor Kraft?” asked Cashman.
“No. He said he was working for the defense team and I don’t want to [help the defense],” Lugdon said.
Police investigators, who described the deaths as occurring after a drug deal gone bad, have said the car with Rhode Island plates was rented by Sexton.
Fire investigators Ken MacMasters and Stuart Jacobs testified earlier in the day in front of the jury about examining and removing the three charred bodies and other evidence from the burned rental car, including a blue plastic material believed to be a melted container that held accelerant.
MacMasters found the completely blackened and burned plastic in the back seat between Tuscano’s body and the door, and he removed it for further investigation, he testified.
“In my many, many years as a fire investigator … melted plastic containers look the same,” Jacobs, who has 31 years with the fire marshal’s office, said about the charred and melted plastic he believes was once a fuel can. “This one was different because it was blue.”
Forensic chemist Michele Fleury, who works for the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory in Augusta, told the jury of eight women and eight men, including four alternates, that she found the compounds of diesel fuel on the blue plastic and most but not all of the other items submitted to her for testing in the case.
Lugdon, Borders and Tuscano all had been shot to death and then burned, according to a former Maine medical examiner who testified Friday. Toxicology tests showed that all three had ingested illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana and oxycodone, the medical examiner testified. Lugdon also had heroin in her system.
At the end of Lugdon’s testimony Monday, Anderson ended the trial for the day and asked to speak with the prosecution and defense teams to prepare for Tuesday.
Sexton and Daluz each face between 25 years and life in prison if convicted.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Katelyn Lugdon replied "no" when asked if Silverstein was in the room during the interview. When if Silverstein was in the courtroom, Lugdon said, “No.”