BANGOR, Maine — Cellphone experts for the prosecution took a break Thursday afternoon so a defense witness could testify by video from California on the 11th day of a triple murder trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who is prosecuting the case, challenged the credentials of Manfred Schenk, 73, of Los Angeles, who last worked directly for a cellphone firm in the early 1970s. Schenk said that the science shows that cellphones can connect with towers as far as 21 miles away and would not necessarily seek out the nearest tower.
That contradicted testimony Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning from an FBI agent who mapped the defendants’ route Aug. 12-13, 2012, using the cellphone records of Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Randall Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, known by the nickname “Ricky” or “Money.”
The two men have been charged with three counts of murder and one count of arson in connection with the deaths. Investigators have described the slayings as a drug deal gone bad.
Sexton and Daluz have pleaded not guilty.
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 burning rental car on Aug. 13, 2012, in Bangor. Lugdon and Borders died of gunshot wounds, according to Dr. Michael Ferenc, formerly of the state medical examiner’s office. He also determined that Tuscano died of head trauma but could have been shot.
Special Agent William Shute testified Wednesday and Thursday that using the defendants’ cellphone records, he located the cellphone towers, then, in August 2013, drove the route investigators believe Sexton and Daluz took when they committed the crimes.
Defense attorneys Jeffrey Silverstein, who represents Daluz, and David Bate, who represents Sexton, both challenged Shute’s contention that cellphones always would seek out a closer tower rather than randomly select one farther away but still within range. Shute maintained the cellphone signal would seek out the closer towers.
Detective Leonard Bolton testified Thursday morning that he reviewed the records of the victims. One of two members of the Maine State Police trained to interpret cellphone records, Bolton testified that the victims’ phones and the defendants’ phones used the same cellphone towers or nearby towers between about 11 p.m. and 11:20 p.m. Aug. 12, 2012.
Cellphone experts for the prosecution have said that Sexton and Daluz spent much of the evening of Aug. 12, 2012, at Carolina’s Sports and Spirits, under the Joshua Chamberlain bridge in Bangor. Shortly before 11 p.m., the two left and went to 15 Bolling Dr. in Bangor and picked up the victims, according to testimony.
The five of them headed north toward Old Town, Shute said, but turned around and returned to Bangor. By midnight Aug. 13, 2012, they were in the Dedham area, where Marchese has said Sexton and Daluz got the diesel fuel from a friend’s garage used to set the car on fire. They left that area and headed back to Bangor to the area around the Ramada Inn on Odlin Road, Shute said.
A car on fire was reported to Bangor police at about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 13, 2012, at 22 Target Industrial Circle, less than ½ mile from the Ramada Inn where Sexton was staying.
Testimony about defendants and the victims use of cellphones is expected to continue Friday.
The state could rest early next week. Defense attorneys have declined to say whether their clients will take the stand in their own defense.
Testimony in the trial began May 2, the day after the jury was seated and opening statements were made. The trial was scheduled to take between three and four weeks.
If convicted of murder, Sexton and Daluz face 25 years to life in prison on each count.