BANGOR, Maine — Whether the drug dealer from Rhode Island, the one from Massachusetts or both men are responsible for the deaths of three people in August 2012 is in the hands of the jury.
The six men and six women who have heard nearly three weeks of testimony in the triple murder trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center deliberated for about 20 minutes late Tuesday afternoon before deciding to go home for the night and resume work Wednesday.
Jurors heard testimony from a couple of defense witnesses before spending most of Tuesday listening to closing arguments and instructions.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese told jurors they did not need to know exactly when or how the victims died the night of Aug. 12, 2012, to find Nicholas Sexton and Randall Daluz guilty of murder and arson.
A ttorneys for both defendants said there is enough reasonable doubt in the evidence presented by the state to find Sexton and Daluz not guilty.
Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, known by the nickname “Ricky” or “Money,” have been charged with three counts of murder and one count of arson in connection with the deaths. Investigators have described the slayings as a drug deal gone bad. Sexton and Daluz have pleaded not guilty.
The charred bodies of Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford were found in a burning rental car on Aug. 13, 2012, at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor.
“You don’t have to be unanimous in your theories [of how the crime was committed],” Marchese said in her closing argument. “You must be unanimous in your verdict.”
Marchese said Borders and Lugdon were killed for being disloyal to Sexton and buying drugs from other suppliers. Tuscano tragically went along for a ride at the urging of Lugdon, she said.
Sexton’s attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, told jurors in his closing arguments that the state was using “poetic license” rather than facts to convict his client. He also said that Sexton told the truth when he took the stand Monday.
Toothaker said the state had presented no proof of a rift between Borders and Sexton or Lugdon and Sexton.
“Poetic license versus actual fact,” Toothaker said. “Ask yourself if it is a fact or the state’s poetic license.”
He also urged jurors to view the circumstances of what happened the night of Aug. 12, 2012, from Sexton’s perspective and ask themselves what they would have done differently.
Daluz’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, told jurors that Sexton took the stand because “he saw his ship sinking and decided to take Daluz down with him.”
He also said that the prosecution was trying to convict his client using guilt by association.
“If he was involved, someone would have seen him [with the victims],” he told jurors. “It’s awfully convenient for the prosecution to just use the word ‘they.’”
Silverstein said that the state had to prove that “Daluz did X, and if they can’t do that, then, you’re just not there. That’s reasonable doubt.”
He said no one could place Daluz with the victims.
“There are no eyewitnesses here because they were murdered,” Marchese said in a rebuttal statement to the jury. “For Mr. Silverstein to say that these guys are not guilty because there are no eyewitnesses is just ridiculous.”
Marchese began her closing about 11 a.m., after Daluz said that he would not testify. Sexton took the stand Monday and said Daluz pulled the trigger to shoot the three victims and forced him to torch the car.
Daluz took the opportunity to address the court for the first time during the trial when the judge told him he was not obligated the take the stand. The defendant criticized the judge’s decision to try him and Sexton together instead of separately.
The jury was not in the courtroom during the short conversation.
Daluz called Sexton’s decision to testify “an act of desperation.”
“If I testify, it will look like an act of desperation,” Daluz said.
Marchese said that phone records proved the defendants and the victims were together after 11 p.m. Aug. 12, 2012. The prosecutor told the jury that Sexton and Daluz had been seen with the guns linked to the bullets taken from the bodies of two victims. Marchese also said there had been testimony that Sexton was unhappy that Borders and Lugdon were using a new supplier.
“The state can’t prove who shot who when,” she said. “That’s because the fire worked. It destroyed clues that would have answered those questions.”
Marchese also said that Sexton’s testimony wasn’t credible.
Sexton testified Monday that Daluz killed all three victims. Sexton said that his co-defendant killed Borders accidentally, then shot Tuscano while they were driving north on Interstate 95.
Because they were low on gas, Daluz told Sexton to drive to a friend’s home in Dedham where they knew there was fuel in cans in a garage. Sexton told the jury that is when Daluz shot Lugdon with the .32-caliber derringer while holding a gun on him. After putting some gas in the car, they drove with the three bodies and a gas can back to Bangor, where, Sexton said, he set the car on fire.
The fuel used to start the fire was diesel, according to previous testimony.
John Barron, a Bangor-area auto mechanic with 40 years experience, was called to the stand Tuesday morning by Daluz’s attorneys. Barron said that if diesel fuel had been put in the gas tank of Sexton’s rental car, he could not have driven it all the way to 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor.
Jurors must consider the charges against each defendant separately. Under Maine’s accomplice liability law, both defendants may be found guilty of murder and arson — no matter who pulled the trigger or lit the fire — if one was aware of the other’s intent, the judge said.
A defense would be if one defendant proved that he was under duress when the crimes took place.
If convicted of murder, Sexton and Daluz face between 25 years and life in prison. On the arson charge, each man faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.