Detective testifies on Day 2 of crowbar murder trial

Posted March 26, 2013, at 9:15 a.m.
Last modified March 26, 2013, at 11:19 a.m.

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The murder trial of Peter Robinson, 49, of Bradford started Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
The murder trial of Peter Robinson, 49, of Bradford started Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

BANGOR, Maine — Testimony on the second day of a Bradford man’s murder trial got under way Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center with a Maine State Police detective taking the stand.

Peter Robinson, 49, is accused of beating to death David Trask, 71, of Hudson on Nov. 12, 2011, in an alleged dispute over a right of way. Robinson, who is free on $150,000 surety bail, acted in self-defense when he beat Trask to death with a large crowbar, defense attorney Thomas Hallett told the jury Monday in his opening statement.

Robinson pleaded not guilty on Dec. 2, 2011, to intentional or knowing murder and depraved indifference murder.

Detective Elmer Farren testified about the evidence he collected, including Trask’s clothing and cellphone, at the autopsy on Nov. 13, 2011.

The defendant called 911 about 2 p.m. Nov. 12, 2011, to report Trask’s death, according to court documents.

“He came at me with a crowbar, I took it out of his hands and I struck him in the head a couple of times and I think he’s dead,” Robinson told a dispatcher at the Maine State Police barracks in Orono, according to the affidavit. “‘We had a confrontation, he came at me with a crowbar, I took it out of his hands and I clubbed him with it.’”

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson on Monday told the jury of nine men and six women, including three alternates, that Trask was defenseless and on the ground when Robinson delivered the fatal blow to the victim’s face.

Trask died of head injuries with extensive fractures, Maine State Police Detective Jay Pelletier said in the documents. The investigator said he learned from Dr. Michael Ferenc, the deputy chief medical examiner, that Trask suffered at least three impacts consistent with a broad, heavy object hitting his face and chest. One of them caused multiple rib fractures and another, to the middle of the face, crushed the front of his skull and injured his brain. The third was to the chin and broke Trask’s jaw. His false teeth were found broken on the ground near his body.

A photo displayed to the jury Monday showed Trask lying on his back in the middle of an unpaved road. His face appeared to be covered in blood.

Ferenc is scheduled to take the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Robinson, who was released on bail Dec. 23, 2011, after being held at the Penobscot County Jail for about five weeks, has been living in Wells, according to court documents. His bail conditions required that he live in York County and have no contact with a long list of relatives of the victim and potential witnesses.

Last week, Anderson modified those conditions in his chambers so it would be more convenient for Robinson to attend the trial. Hallett said Thursday after the hearing on pretrial motions that he believed the new conditions would ensure his client’s safety during the trial.

The trial is scheduled to last six days but might take longer since the prosecution and the defense have listed a total of 125 potential witnesses.

Hallett declined Monday after court adjourned for the day to say whether Robinson would take the stand in his own defense.

If convicted of murder, Robinson could spend between 25 years and life in prison.

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