June 24, 2018
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Ex-EMCC student acted in self-defense, attorney says after arraignment

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The New York man charged in connection with a fatal stabbing April 9 at the Birch Circle apartments will argue that he acted in self defense, his attorney said Friday after Akeem T. Harris pleaded not guilty to murder at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

Harris, 23, of Amityville, N.Y., was taken into custody in the courtroom by a Penobscot County Jail corrections officer after entering his plea.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered that Harris be held without bail until a hearing can be scheduled next month to determine if he is eligible to be released.

Harris was indicted Wednesday by a Penobscot County grand jury for murder in the death of Thomas N. Taylor, 30, of Bangor.

The judge ordered Friday that the affidavit, which outlines details of the stabbing, be sealed at the request of the defense.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor said after his client’s arraignment that he most likely would mount “a defense of self and defense of others” defense.

Silverstein said he based that decision on what he knew of the incident from his client since he had not yet received all the case materials.

The defense attorney also said that he arranged for Harris to surrender at the courthouse.

“He never contemplated doing anything but coming up for this,” Silverstein said. “He even touched base with the detectives who investigated the case on whether it was OK for him to visit his folks. He never intended to avoid anything.”

Harris’ father, sister and friends attended the arraignment.

Across the aisle from them in a second-floor courtroom, the family and friends of the victim sat. They declined to a request for an interview.

Harris was a student at Eastern Maine Community College living on campus when Taylor was stabbed, according to Dan Belyea, director of administrative and student services. Taylor was not attending the school, located off Hogan Road in Bangor.

“Mr. Harris was, but no longer is, a student at EMCC,” Belyea said in a statement. “He withdrew from the college shortly after the events that took place on April 9.

“The college understands that he has returned to his home state of New York and does not intend to return to the college,” the administrator said. “We know of no other connection between the alleged events and the college.”

Harris has no criminal record in Maine, according to the Maine State Bureau of Identification.

“He has no criminal record anywhere,” Silverstein said outside the courthouse Friday.

Taylor died on April 9 from “a stab wound to the chest” and had a “perforation of the lungs and heart,” Mark Belserene, a spokesman for the state medical examiner’s office, said earlier this month.

Both Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, and Silverstein declined to provide details about the incident or what led up to the stabbing.

Bangor police were called to Taylor’s residence at the Birch Circle apartments, located at 1160 Ohio St., for an altercation shortly after 6 p.m. April 9 and found Taylor in the parking lot bleeding from the stab wound, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said earlier this month.

Taylor, who was the father of a young boy, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he later died.

If convicted of murder, Harris faces between 25 years and life in prison.

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