January 29, 2020
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Man shot during break-in says he was too drunk to know where he was

| BDN
| BDN
Christopher Wildhaber

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Rockland man who was shot by a man in a wheelchair while allegedly trying to rob him of his prescription medications claims he simply was so drunk he did not realize he was in the wrong apartment.

A motion filed on behalf of 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber in Knox County Unified Court also asks a judge to throw out statements he made to police when they found him wounded in woods behind the apartment complex where the shooting occurred.

In a separate motion seeking to deny the use of his client’s medical records in the case, attorney William Pagnano states that his client has maintained his innocence and that possible defenses include “he entered the victim’s residence by mistake due to his level of impairment/intoxication due to alcohol and/or drugs.”

Pagnano asks the court to rule whether the medical records that the prosecution has requested — documents from when Wildhaber was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport on the night of the Aug. 31, 2015, shooting — are confidential.

A hearing on both motions is scheduled for April 21.

Wildhaber pleaded not guilty in January to charges of burglary, theft of medication, attempted theft and three counts of refusing to submit to arrest. Wildhaber has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since his arrest on the night of the shooting.

Police said he was shot by Harvey Lembo, whose apartment Wildhaber had broken into that night.

Wildhaber’s attorney also has asked the court to suppress any statements that his client made to police when they located him in the woods in back of the Park Place Apartments. Wildhaber was shot, bleeding and in shock when police interrogated him without giving him his Miranda warnings about self-incrimination, according to the motion.

Wildhaber made incriminating statements that were against his interest, Pagnano states in the motion. The circumstances of the questioning raise the issue of whether they were voluntary and thus whether they could be used at any future trial, he argued.

Lembo told the BDN on Sept. 1 that he had purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver the day before the shooting because he had been the victim of four prior burglaries in the six years he had lived in the apartment. In those instances, his medications and money had been taken.

Lembo said he was awoken on the night of Aug. 31 by a sound in his apartment and saw a shadow pass by his kitchen into the living room. Lembo said he took the gun, which he had under his pillow, and confronted the intruder, who was rifling through his medications.

Lembo said he ordered the man to sit down, which he did initially, but then the man got up and tried to flee. Lembo said he fired a shot, which struck the man in the shoulder.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau has said he has not decided whether Lembo would face any charges for shooting Wildhaber.

Stanford Management LLC of Portland, which manages the apartment complex, notified Lembo shortly after the shooting that he was in violation of house rules by having a gun on the premises and that an eviction process would be started if he did not comply.

Lembo has since filed a lawsuit against both the property’s owner, Park Place Associates of Rockland, and the management company, claiming they have violated his U.S. and state constitutional rights to own a gun. The case is pending in Knox County Unified Court in Rockland and the apartment owner and management company are contesting the claims.

The Maine Legislature, however, has passed legislation that would prohibit apartment owners who receive government subsidies from prohibiting their tenants from having guns. The bill, which exempts owner-occupied buildings of four or fewer units, has yet to be signed into law by the governor.

 


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