The woman who survived a Millinocket home invasion more than a year ago described having her hands and feet tied up with rope, being forced into her and her husband’s bedroom at gunpoint, and being shot twice in the head through a pillow.
From the witness stand, Diem Lapierre identified Christopher Murray as the man who shot her during the home invasion Dec. 19, 2017.
Lapierre’s testimony came on the second day of Murray’s jury trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Her testimony was followed by that of Alexis Locklear, Murray’s girlfriend and the daughter of the man who planned the robbery.
Murray, 39, of Red Springs, North Carolina, is accused of robbing and shooting Wayne Lapierre, 59, and Diem Lapierre, now 34, in the basement of their Massachusetts Avenue home. Wayne Lapierre died of two bullet wounds to the head three days later in a Bangor hospital.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to one count each of intentional or knowing murder, elevated aggravated assault and robbery in connection with the home invasion.
Wayne Lapierre was a licensed medical marijuana grower who also owned storage facilities, a plowing and excavation company, and other businesses in the Millinocket area.
Murray went to the house intending to rob Lapierre, with Locklear, 22, of Maxton, North Carolina, and her father, Tony Locklear, 44, of Pembroke, North Carolina, who had previously lived in East Millinocket and worked for the Lapierres remodeling a house, according to court documents. Alexis Locklear drove the two men to the Lapierre house, but was not aware of their plans to rob the couple, she testified with a heavy southern accent.
The younger Locklear told jurors that she saw her father tie up Diem Lapierre “like an animal” with rope and Murray place handcuffs on Wayne Lapierre. She testified that she took a large amount of marijuana to her car, as instructed by her father, and did not return to the house.
When the men exited the house and got in the car, Murray denied shooting the Lapierres, Alexis Locklear testified. He said that Tony Locklear shot them both.
Diem (pronounced Yem) Lapierre, a native of Vietnam, testified Tuesday through an interpreter that she and her husband had been separated for nearly a year in December 2017. She was living in Bangor with the couple’s two children, but went to Millinocket once a week to help her husband with the businesses and household chores.
She was doing dishes in the kitchen at about 6:30 p.m. when there was a knock at the door. Her husband let in Murray and the Locklears.
Tony Locklear had contacted Wayne Lapierre earlier in the day about coming to the house so he could pick up some marijuana, according to court documents.
Diem Lapierre, who wept often as she described what happened that night, said that Tony Locklear tied her hands and feet together with a rope, put a gun to the back of her head and forced her into the master bedroom in the basement. When she got to the bedroom, she saw her husband sitting on the floor with his hands behind his back. She sat down next to him as directed.
“They kept asking, ‘Where’s the money? Where’s the money?’ They looked under the mattress, in the closet, in the dresser. We said, ‘There was no money,’” Diem Lapierre said.
Murray and Locklear threatened both Lapierres with guns, she said.
Weeping, Diem Lapierre said that she and her husband begged for their lives.
“I said, ‘Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me,’” she testified. “I have two young children to care for and a mother who is 75. They were cold and evil.”
She recounted how Murray took her husband’s pillow from the bed, held it up and shot her through it. She fell over onto her husband and heard but did not see two shots fired at her husband. The men later shot her again, Diem Lapierre testified.
She was unconscious for about 30 minutes when “God brought me back,” she said. She was able to untie herself, crawl upstairs to the kitchen and call 911.
The intruders left the Lapierre home with two 5-gallon buckets of marijuana, between $400 and $500 in cash, and the rings off Diem Lapierre’s fingers, prosecutors have said.
As a result of being shot, Diem Lapierre said that she lost her left eye and still has two bullets lodged in her brain.
When asked by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese about how well she remembered the events of Dec. 19, 2017, Diem Lapierre replied: “I remember everything that happened to me and my family. I will never forget the rest of my life.”
Under cross-examination, Diem Lapierre maintained that she had no memory lapses. She disputed a hospital report that said she suffered from short-term memory loss, saying it was the result of a language barrier. She did not have an interpreter when she was interviewed by the occupational therapist who wrote the report, she told jurors.
Diem Lapierre testified that she met her husband in 2004 in Vietnam through an aunt, who owned a restaurant in northern Penobscot County. They became engaged and married in November 2006. She became an American citizen in 2011.
Locklear testified that she met Murray when in North Carolina when he was working at a casino and she applied for a job there. She introduced Murray to her father, and they became friends.
On Dec. 16 or 17, 2017, her father insisted she drive him to Maine, she told the jury Tuesday.
“He said he needed to get $10,000 buried in the basement of his house up there,” she said.
Alexis Locklear said she and Murray helped search the house but did not find the cash. That evening, her father asked to borrow her car to buy some marijuana from a man he used to work for.
After the robbery, the trio returned to North Carolina, where they were later arrested. She told jurors Tuesday that she never asked Murray or her father about the robbery.
Her cross-examination is to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. The case is expected to go to the jury Friday.
Locklear’s plea agreement with the Maine attorney general’s office calls for a charge of felony murder to be dropped and for her to be sentenced to time served. Described by the judge as an accomplice, she is expected to be sentenced within a few months.
Earlier this month, Tony Locklear pleaded guilty to the same charges on which Murray is being tried. He does not have a plea deal with prosecutors. He also faces murder and first-degree kidnapping charges from December 2017 in North Carolina — about two weeks before the home invasion in Millinocket.
The Locklears and Murray have been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since their arrests.
The penalty for murder in Maine is 25 years to life in prison. The penalty for Class A robbery is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.