The Penobscot County district attorney’s office said Thursday it will not prosecute the Newport man charged in connection with a Dec. 12 shooting at a convenience store.
Brian Duplisea, 34, of Newport originally was arrested and charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a Class C crime. He was released from Penobscot County Jail on $10,000 cash bail Dec. 13.
District Attorney Marianne Lynch said her office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Duplisea committed the crime, so it was not going forward with the case.
“We have an ethical obligation to bring to court cases we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said. “I’m sure there are people who will disagree with this decision.”
The victim, Ralph McLaughlin II, 28, of Hartland, who previously was not identified, said in dropping the charge against Duplisea, the district attorney’s office was sending a dangerous message to the public.
“[Prosecutors] are not following Maine law, which requires people to retreat to safety during a fight if they can,” he said. “They are saying that anyone after a little fist fight can shoot somebody.”
McLaughlin, who came forward Thursday, said he ran into Duplisea at about 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at Bear’s One Stop, a convenience store at 80 Moosehead Trail, also known as Route 7. The two men argued about McLaughlin’s girlfriend, he said.
“I hit him once, and he immediately went to his truck and got a gun,” McLaughlin said. “He shot me in the leg, and I fell on the ground. Then, he shot me in the abdomen and in the leg again.”
McLaughlin said he spent six days in the hospital, had to have part of his liver removed and has not been able to return to work full time because of nerve pain in his foot.
Efforts to reach Duplisea were unsuccessful Thursday. No attorney entered an appearance on his behalf, according to the Penobscot County court clerk’s office.
Maine’s self-defense law says that “a person is justified in using deadly force upon another person when the person reasonably believes it necessary and reasonably believes such other person is about to use unlawful, deadly force against the person.”
The charge against Duplisea was dismissed Thursday.
“The district attorney’s office acknowledges the thorough and professional investigation conducted by Newport PD and [Maine State Police],” Lynch said.
Newport police Chief Leonard Mcdaid said it was up to Lynch to decide whether to pursue charges or not in cases presented to her office.
Reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon is a Class C crime, and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.