ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Lamoine man charged with murder and other charges in connection with a shooting in March that left one man dead and two others wounded pleaded not guilty Monday to the charges in Hancock County Superior Court.
More than 30 people filled the courtroom around 1 p.m. when Michael Carter, 30, was brought in to answer to the charges. Many of the people sitting in the gallery were relatives of Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair Jr., who died in the March 11 shooting outside Carter’s home on Route 184. Some wore buttons with a photograph of Sinclair on their clothing as they watched Carter come in.
Also injured in the shooting, which happened around 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday, were Torrey Garland, 34, and Joshua McKinney, 25, both of Ellsworth.
The courtroom went silent, with only the sound of the chains on Carter’s leg shackles rattling as he walked, when two Maine State Police troopers escorted him into the courtroom and to the defense table. Carter, who according to friends of Sinclair accidentally shot himself during the March incident, showed no signs of injury as he moved through the courtroom.
Carter, wearing handcuffs and jail-issued clothing, entered not-guilty pleas to charges of murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
After Carter said “not guilty” four times, Justice Ann Murray scheduled a bail hearing for Carter at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 13. The brief arraignment then abruptly adjourned and Carter was taken back to Hancock County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest Friday, the day after he was indicted by a Hancock County grand jury.
Relatives of Sinclair made brief statements to the media after the arraignment. Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair Sr., the dead man’s father, called Carter a “dirtbag” and an expletive.
“I hope he rots in hell. … He doesn’t deserve bail. He doesn’t deserve to breathe the air we’re breathing,” Sinclair said in a courthouse stairwell after the arraignment.
Sinclair repeated what members and friends of his family have been saying since the incident — that the men who were shot were invited to Carter’s home and had no idea they were about to be attacked. The men went to Carter’s home ostensibly to talk about a paint job Sinclair had done on Carter’s pickup truck which Carter was not happy with, friends of Sinclair have said.
Outside the courthouse, Sinclair’s sister Lori Rowley said her brother was an innocent victim and did nothing to provoke the shooting.
“Randy was a wonderful person,” she said. “He would never hurt anybody.”
Near where Rowley spoke were two pickup trucks parked in front of the courthouse with the message “RIP Randy” painted in their rear-view windows. Another said “Maine needs xpress [sic] lane 2 death row.”
Some relatives of Sinclair, including his sister and father, said that up until his arrest on Friday, Carter had been doing things to upset Sinclair’s family and friends. They declined to go into detail about Carter’s alleged behavior.
Carter’s family declined to speak to reporters after the arraignment.
Carter’s defense attorney, Richard Hartley of Bangor, said after the arraignment that the only documentation he has seen so far from the investigation is a copy of last Thursday’s indictment of his client. He said he met with Carter’s family months ago to discuss the possibility of representing Carter, but that he has not yet spent time going over statements and evidence gathered in the case.
“We don’t have any of the information behind the charge,” Hartley said.
The assistant attorney general who represented the prosecution during Monday’s arraignment, Deb Cashman, left the courthouse after the arraignment without making a statement to reporters.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.