PARIS, Maine — A Norway man accused of attacking a woman he was living with and a police officer in May 2012 got a split verdict Monday in Oxford County Superior Court.
Michael B. Murphy, 61, was found guilty of assault on Officer Zachary Bisson of the Oxford Police Department, as well as refusing to submit to arrest. He was found not guilty of assault on an Oxford woman whose home he lived in until his arrest May 27 of last year.
Murphy had also originally been charged with domestic violence assault, but that charge was previously dismissed because he and the woman were not in a relationship when the incident occurred.
The woman told the court that on May 27, she got home from shopping to find Murphy, an old friend who had been living in a room in her Oxford house for years, drunk on liquor in her living room. After an argument over his loud music, she said, Murphy attacked her, throwing her to the floor and putting her in a headlock.
She said she called a friend, who tried to convince Murphy to leave the house before calling police.
Bisson, an Oxford reserve police officer, responded to the home. Bisson, who is also a full-time Mechanic Falls police officer, said that Murphy was clearly intoxicated and uncooperative, and said he and the woman had “an adult discussion.”
The woman told Bisson what happened, he said, and Bisson went outside with Murphy and placed him in handcuffs. Bisson said that when he tried to put Murphy in the police cruiser, he began squirming and trying to escape. When Bisson took Murphy to the ground, Bisson said, he began kicking Bisson’s legs.
Bisson said he pinned Murphy down and called for backup. Three other officers arrived, put leg shackles on Murphy and attached the shackles to the handcuffs to keep Murphy from fighting any more, Bisson said. He said Murphy had passed out in the back seat by the time they arrived at the Oxford County Jail.
Bisson said he took pictures of a bruise on the woman’s arm.
Murphy’s attorney, Maurice Porter, noted that no photos of injuries had been submitted as evidence in the case.
Bisson said he collected the evidence but wasn’t in charge of submitting it to the district attorney’s office.
Murphy gave a very different account of events. He said it was the woman, not him, who was drunk. He denied attacking her, and said that she wanted to have him jailed or committed so she could continue collecting the benefits he received as a disabled veteran.
“She wanted to have me committed so she could get the whole check and not have to deal with me at all,” Murphy testified.
Murphy said there were two officers who responded, not just Bisson, and that the other officer spoke with the woman in her computer room while Bisson took Murphy outside. Murphy said that without provocation, Bisson threw him to the ground and pinned him there, hurting Murphy’s knee. He denied kicking Bisson.
Murphy told the court that Bisson had made up the story about his resisting arrest to cover up the way he’d treated Murphy.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour before giving their verdict.
Murphy has prior offenses, which elevated the assault on Bisson to a Class C, although the prior offenses weren’t discussed at the trial.
Murphy’s sentencing was continued to the end of May so his probation officer can write up a presentencing report on Murphy.
Until then, Murphy is not to have any contact with the woman, except through a police officer, only to get belongings that he still has at her house.