BANGOR, Maine — One of two men convicted last month in connection with the triple murder nearly two years ago that police called a drug deal gone bad is seeking a new trial.
Randall Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Mass., is seeking a new trial. His co-defendant, Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, R.I., is not.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who prosecuted the case with Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman, has not yet replied to the motion. She said Wednesday in an email that prosecutors would oppose it.
Motions for new trials often are filed in murder trials prior to defendants being sentenced. They are almost always denied but often are the basis for appeals to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
A date for a hearing on the motion before Superior Court Justice William Anderson has not been set. In previous cases, Anderson has held hearings on motions for new trials just prior to sentencings. Sentencing dates have not been set.
A Penobscot County jury found Daluz guilty May 28 on three counts of murder and one count of arson following a month long trial. After deliberating for nearly 45 hours over five days, jurors found Sexton guilty of the murder of Nicolle Lugdon and of arson, but could not reach a verdict on the murder counts in connection with the deaths of Daniel Borders and Lucas Tuscano.
The charred bodies of Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Borders, 26, of Hermon and Tuscano, 28, of Bradford were found in a burning rental car Aug. 13, 2012, at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor. They had been shot to death and the car they were in set on fire to destroy evidence, according to testimony.
Sexton took the stand May 19 and said Daluz shot Borders accidentally but killed Tuscano and then Lugdon intentionally. Sexton said that Daluz forced him to set the car on fire and threatened to kill him and his children if he went to the police.
Daluz did not take the stand.
The motion for a new trial was filed last week by Daluz’s attorneys Hunter Tzovarras and Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor. Defense attorney David Bate of Bangor, who along with Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth represents Sexton, said Wednesday that their client is not seeking a new trial.
Attorneys for Daluz claimed in their motion that their client was denied a fair trial due to improper statements made by Marchese and Toothaker during their closing arguments to the jury and because the defendants were tried jointly. Both defendants opposed a joint trial numerous times prior to and during the trial.
“[Toothaker’s] closing arguments asked the jury to place themselves in Mr. Daluz’s shoes and suggested at least twice that Mr. Daluz could not explain the events of Aug. 12-13, 2012,” Tzovarras wrote in the motion. “These comments implicate Mr. Daluz’s right to remain silent and contrasted his silence to Mr. Sexton’s testimony. In addition, [Sexton’s attorney] made comments in his closing argument that Mr. Daluz (an African-American) was the more likely defendant to carry a firearm because he was a minority and that he came from a dangerous neighborhood.”
The motion said Marchese’s closing argument implied that “the standard of proof in a case involving a fire is less than a non-fire case or involved something less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”