Fatal Belfast shooting trial scheduled for August

Todd M. Gilday is escorted into the Waldo County Superior Courthouse in August 2013.
Abigail Curtis | BDN
Todd M. Gilday is escorted into the Waldo County Superior Courthouse in August 2013. Buy Photo
Posted June 04, 2014, at 2:30 p.m.
Last modified June 04, 2014, at 8:05 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — A Superior Court judge denied on Wednesday the attempt by a defense attorney to delay the August trial date of Todd Gilday, accused of killing a Belfast woman last summer.

Justice Robert Murray ruled against court-appointed co-counsel Jeremy Pratt’s motion asking for more time before his client’s trial for the shooting death of Lynn Arsenault, according to a Waldo County Superior Court clerk. The jury is scheduled to be selected on Aug. 11, and the court has set aside at least one week that month for Gilday’s trial.

Pratt said Wednesday that he had no comment at this time. Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, the state prosecutor, told the BDN that the policy of the attorney general’s office is to not comment on pending homicide cases.

Police have said that Gilday, 44, was upset over a friend’s child custody case and had consumed a large amount of opiates the night that he went to Mathew Day’s Waldo Avenue home with a shotgun. He shot through the door, according to an affidavit filed in December by a Maine State Police detective, and once inside shot the 22-year-old Day in the stomach and arm, seriously injuring him. Day told police that Arsenault, his 55-year-old mother, came out of a bedroom where she had been sleeping and may have tried to grab the gun from Gilday before he fired at her, shooting her in the chest.

Arsenault died of a single shotgun wound to the upper left arm and chest.

Arsenault, who lived in both Garland and Belfast, was remembered by community members as a kind and compassionate person who would do anything to help someone out.

After the shootings, Gilday apparently drove to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, where he asked to be admitted to the psychiatric and addiction recovery unit at 1 a.m. He told the staff there he was a drug addict and had had a very bad night, according to the affidavit filed by Maine State Police Detective Dean Jackson, who said that Gilday had refused to talk to police about the case.

But other people shared information that shed light on the possible motive for the shooting, including Day, who told the detective he had known Gilday for about three months and had met him through his girlfriend. Day said that he and Gilday would get drugs for each other, according to the affidavit.

Last fall, Gilday pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity of the charges of intentional or knowing murder, aggravated attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault. If convicted of murder, he will serve a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Gilday, a former tax examiner who had most recently made his living by selling health insurance policies, told the court in a request to be determined indigent that he had just $375 in cash assets and owes $50,000 in student loans.

This winter, Gilday’s other court-appointed attorney, Philip Cohen of Waldoboro, made a motion for a change of venue for the trial, saying that his client cannot receive a fair trial in Waldo County because of the “substantial publicity surrounding the alleged event.”

Zainea argued that the motion for a venue change may be deferred until closer to the trial date. On Feb. 20, Murray issued an order deferring any formal or final action on Cohen’s pending motion until after the first attempt at selecting a jury.

The murder case has attracted media attention from all over Maine and throughout New England, and a vigil for Arsenault held last September drew more than 150 people who shared stories about her kindness and willingness to mentor her co-workers.

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