May 20, 2018
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Because of safety concerns, murder case appeal won’t be heard at Bucksport High School

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Bangor police remove a handgun from a vehicle after a youth displayed an empty holster and made threats to other youths outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor in December 2011 after Zachary Carr was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the shooting death of John Bobby Surles.
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

BUCKSPORT, Maine — During its educational tour next month, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court will not hear oral arguments in the appeal of a 2011 murder conviction at Bucksport High School, as originally planned.

The court was scheduled to hear three cases at Bucksport on Oct. 26, including the appeal of Zachary Carr, who was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to 35 years in prison after fatally shooting 19-year-old John “Bobby” Surles during a street brawl in Bangor in January 2010.

Bucksport High School Principal Dan Clifford was researching the case when he stumbled upon a Bangor Daily News story that mentioned police confiscating a gun outside the courtroom during Carr’s trial. The man in possession of the gun had allegedly waved an empty holster at Carr’s friends outside the Bangor courtroom.

“Our student safety is number one,” Clifford said. “If there’s a case that’s questionable, we wouldn’t want to have it at the high school.”

Seeing that Carr’s case had caused concern before, Clifford contacted Mary Ann Lynch, government and media counsel for the Law Court. The court subsequently decided to replace Carr’s case with another.

“There was no reason to take any risk when this case could just as easily be heard in November in a courthouse when the court is sitting in Bangor,” Lynch wrote in an email to the BDN. “We hope to schedule a third case for the benefit of the students by the end of the week.”

During its annual educational tour, the Law Court also will visit Biddeford High School on Oct. 23 and Brunswick High School on Oct. 24. For the past few years, the court has heard oral arguments at schools around the state in an effort to educate students about the third branch of government.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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