April 24, 2018
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Motion for new trial in murder of Bangor teen makes grandfather feel like victim

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The grandfather who raised John “Bobby” Surles said Friday that he and his wife felt “like victims, like we were on trial” during a hearing on a motion for a new trial filed by the defense team that represents Surles’ killer.

Allen Suddy, 62, of Bangor expressed his family’s frustration with the legal process outside the Penobscot Judicial Center after Justice Michaela Murphy adjourned the 2½-hour hearing without ruling on the motion.

Zachary Carr, 19, of Bangor was found guilty in March of intentional or knowing murder in the shooting death of Surles, 19, of Bangor around 6 p.m. Jan. 27, 2010, on Cumberland Street. The incident was described during the trial as a street fight between two groups of young men.

Surles died the next day.

Carr was indicted last year by the Penobscot County grand jury on charges of murder and manslaughter.

“He was tried by a jury of his peers and found guilty,” Suddy said Friday. “We shouldn’t even be here at all. This is a waste of taxpayer money.”

Surles’ grandfather also said that if Carr had taken a deal offered by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which prosecutes all homicide cases, the expense of a trial and appellate motions could have been avoided. Surles said Carr was offered a seven-year prison term in exchange for a plea to manslaughter, but his attorneys “convinced Zack into turning it down.”

Defense Attorney F. David Walker IV said he would not comment on plea negotiations.

“We tried to provide Zack with as much information as we could,” Walker said. “We never tried to talk him into or out of any offer decision.”

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who prosecuted Carr, said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on plea negotiations.

Walker and co-counsel Thomas Matzilevich of Bangor last week filed the motion seeking a new trial, which is standard in murder convictions.

The motion argued that Carr’s conviction should be overturned because the state failed to prove he acted intentionally and knowingly when he shot Surles and failed to disprove that the defendant acted in self-defense, which the state had the burden to disprove.

The attorneys also said Carr should be granted a new trial because prosecution witness Dylan Colvin lied on the stand. The defense team claims that since the trial, Colvin has boasted to others involved in the case that he lied on the stand.

Colvin, who is incarcerated at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston, took the stand Friday and said he told the truth when he testified at the trial but lied when he talked to other witnesses in the case.

“I said that to make them angry,” he said. “I didn’t lie under oath.”

Walker also argued in his motion that Carr deserves a new trial because a recording of an interview with witness Jason Blake was not found by Bangor police until after Walker filed his motion for a new trial.

The 45-minute interview was saved on a digital recorder not normally used to record interviews and tucked into a binder, Detective James Carr, who is not related to the defendant, testified.

A copy of the interview has been turned over to Benson and Walker, he said.

“Jason Blake was the most important witness with the exception of the defendant,” Walker said after the hearing. “He was one of only two people who saw the shooting other than the defendant.”

Blake testified at the trial that he was being beaten by Surles with a mop handle when Carr kicked Surles, according to previously published reports. He told the jury that he was getting up off the ground when he saw a flash of light and heard the gunshot.

Walker said he needed the recording to challenge Blake’s credibility.

At the end of Friday’s hearing, Murphy indicated she did not expect to rule on the motion until middle to late summer.

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