BANGOR, Maine — Nicholas Sexton testified Monday that his co-defendant shot and killed three people on Aug. 12, 2012, then forced him to set a car and the three bodies that were in it on fire to destroy the evidence.
Sexton said that Randall Daluz — who with Sexton is on trial for the triple homicide — let him live so that people would believe Sexton committed the grisly crimes.
After Sexton testified during the morning, a prosecutor and defense attorney for Daluz spent the afternoon session trying to poke holes in Sexton’s story, pointing out that the forensic evidence presented in the case did not match his story, and his actions the day after the murders weren’t consistent with a man afraid for his life.
Daluz will decide Tuesday morning if he will give jurors a different version of what happened that night, Jeffrey Silverstein, Daluz’s attorney, said after court recessed Monday.
If Daluz does not testify, the jury could begin deliberating Tuesday afternoon after closing arguments and jury instructions, attorneys for the defense and prosecution said late Monday afternoon. If Daluz does take the stand, deliberations would begin Wednesday.
Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, known by the nickname “Ricky” or “Money,” 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, at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor.
Sexton took the stand in his defense Monday as the trial spilled into its fourth and final week. He told a packed courtroom that Daluz killed Borders by accident when he “hit him in the head with the barrel of the .380 pistol.” Sexton said Daluz killed Tuscano and Lugdon “deliberately.”
His testimony about how he and Daluz came to Maine matched that of previous witnesses in most aspects. Sexton rented a car in Rhode Island and picked Daluz up in Massachusetts on Aug. 11, 2012. The two came to Maine to sell drugs and spent much of the next evening at Carolina’s Sports & Spirits in Bangor.
Sexton broke down on the stand and wept as he began describing his friendship with Lugdon. He said they would “hook up” when he was in Bangor and described her as “a lover.”
Once he regained his composure, Sexton denied that two guns — a .32-caliber derringer and a .380 pistol, which both have been tied by a firearms expert to the slayings — were on the bed of a Brewer motel room as Katelyn Lugdon, 19, formerly of Bangor, testified. She is the sister of Nicolle Lugdon and was living with Borders.
The Rhode Island man also said that he and Daluz left Carolina’s at about 11 p.m. Aug. 12, 2012, and went to 15 Bolling Drive in Bangor to pick up the victims. The plan, Sexton said, was to sell Borders some cocaine and to smoke marijuana. Sexton said he was driving with Borders in the passenger seat. Daluz was behind Borders, and Tuscano was behind the driver’s seat, with Lugdon in between them, Sexton testified.
“Nikky was talking about coming back to the hotel with me later,” Sexton said. “Dan was up front rolling a joint, when, all of a sudden this commotion breaks out. Dan says something to Daluz, and Daluz gets pissed and smacks Dan in the head. Dan spilled the dope all over the car.”
Sexton said he did not hear what Borders said but described it “as something smart.”
“Everybody tells them to chill out, and I turn around, and I see Daluz has a gun in his hand,” he continued. “He hits [Borders] with it a few times. Nikki’s telling him to chill out, and the gun goes off, and everybody starts screaming and yelling.”
Sexton said he was telling Daluz to put the gun down when his co-defendant shot Tuscano. That shot “blew out” the back passenger window. Lugdon became hysterical, he said.
Daluz ordered Sexton to keep driving, but he was worried they were going to run out of gas, Sexton testified. Sexton said he turned around in Orono, then went to Dedham on Daluz’s instructions. There, Sexton put gas in the car, then put the gas can in the vehicle.
Sexton said that he drove to Hermon and down a dirt road where Daluz instructed Lugdon to swallow a number of pills. Daluz took money from Tuscano and Borders and gathered up shell casings, Sexton testified.
“He came to the driver’s side of the car, and I got out,” Sexton said. “I got out, and he asked if I was going to tell on him, and I said, ‘No.’ He pointed the gun at me and raised his hand to the other window and, boom, he shoots Nicolle.”
Sexton said that Daluz threatened to kill his children if he went to police, so he agreed to burn the car with the bodies in it. Sexton said that he selected the Target Industrial Circle location because it was close to the Ramada Inn, but he had to return there to get a lighter from Daluz, after he had dropped him off there, so he could start the fire.
Silverstein said that the gasoline found on the burned-out car and in the gas can found melted in the backseat of the rented Pontiac was diesel fuel. Daluz’s attorney pointed out that if Sexton had put diesel gasoline in the car, it would not have run properly.
“It ran fine,” Sexton said.
When the question returned to his relationship with Lugdon, Silverstein asked: “Why aren’t you crying on command as you did under direct examination?”
Sexton did not answer.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said that Dr. Michael Ferenc, who performed autopsies on all three bodies, said that Borders and Lugdon both were shot behind their left ears. That was not possible if Daluz shot the victims the way Sexton described, she said.
“So, you’re driving along and he shoots your friend in the head, and you just keep on driving?” Marchese asked.
“He’s screaming, ‘keep driving,’” Sexton said. “Nikky’s screaming for her life. There was nothing I could have done.”
Under cross-examination, Sexton denied that he had any blood on his clothing but said Daluz told him he was going to a friend’s to do laundry because his clothes were bloody.
Marchese listed 17 phone calls and text messages Sexton sent to Daluz between 7:44 a.m. and 5:42 p.m. Aug. 13, 2012.
“If you were scared of him, why were you calling him so often?” she asked. “Were you making plans as to how you were going to cover this up?”
“No,” Sexton replied.
If convicted, both men face between 25 years and life in prison on the murder charges. The arson charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.