A jury began deliberating Friday afternoon in the trial of a North Carolina man accused of killing a Millinocket marijuana grower and injuring his wife during a Dec. 19, 2017, home invasion.
Christopher Murray, 39, of Red Springs, North Carolina, was one of three people charged with robbing and shooting Wayne Lapierre, 59, and his wife, Diem Lapierre, now 34, in the basement of their Massachusetts Avenue home. Wayne Lapierre died of bullet wounds 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.
His trial began Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor before a jury of seven men and eight women, including three alternates.
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 allegedly went to the house to rob Lapierre with girlfriend Alexis Locklear, 22, of Maxton, North Carolina, and her father, Tony Locklear, 44, of Pembroke, North Carolina, who previously lived in East Millinocket and worked for the Lapierres remodeling a house.
Alexis Locklear drove the two men to the Lapierre house, but was not aware of their plans to rob the couple, she testified Tuesday. She also wasn’t in the house when the Lapierres were shot.
The intruders left the Lapierre home with two 5-gallon buckets of marijuana, between $400 and $500 in cash, and the rings off Diem (pronounced Yem) Lapierre’s fingers, said Monday.
Diem Lapierre, a native of Vietnam, testified Tuesday with the aid of an interpreter.
Both men had guns, Diem Lapierre and Alexis Locklear both testified. They disposed of them as the trio left Maine, and were never recovered.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese told jurors in her closing argument that it would be up to them to determine who the shooter was.
“It is a rare occurrence indeed when a person is shot twice in the head and survives,” she said. “Diem Lapierre has never wavered from her story that Christopher Murray was the man who shot her.”
Marchese also said that despite the defense’s efforts to cast Diem Lapierre’s memory as unreliable, doctors who evaluated her at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center as she was about to be discharged testified that her memory was not impaired.
“The testimony of Diem Lapierre was supported by Alexis Locklear’s testimony and is supported by the evidence found at the scene,” Marchese said. “Alexis Locklear knew that her boyfriend had a gun. She watched him take out a pair of handcuffs and handcuff an innocent man.”
Even if jurors are unsure whether Murray was the shooter or an accomplice, he is guilty under Maine law, Marchese said. Under Maine’s accomplice liability law defendants are guilty, no matter who pulled the trigger, if one was aware of the other’s intent.
Defense attorney David Bate said in his closing argument that the prosecution “bought” the testimony of Alexis Locklear with her plea agreement.
“Who is going to protect us from the protectors when the protectors are willing to buy new facts from a witness?” he asked jurors. “Her plea agreement is cash on the barrelhead for her testimony.”
There was no proof that Murray knew Tony Locklear planned to kill and rob the Lapierres, Bate said.
“Something went from normal to crazy in a very short time at the Lapierre house,” the attorney said. “How does the state know that Christopher Murray wasn’t as surprised as Alexie was when this happened?”
Alexis Locklear testified that when Murray and Tony Locklear came out of the house and got into the car, her father said that he had shot the couple and Murray said he had “not hurt anyone,” Bate told the jury.
Bate asked jurors to consider the difference between what Diem Lapierre said on a 911 call — that she was “hit,” that there had been no guns involved and that the intruders were wearing masks — and her testimony. Diem Lapierre testified that she told the dispatcher she and her husband were “hurt,” and she identified Murray as the man who shot her, which she could not have done if the men had been wearing masks.
The defense attorney pointed to those statements as examples of Diem Lapierre’s possible memory lapses.
Alexis Locklear pleaded guilty last week to robbery. Her 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.
Tony Locklear pleaded guilty on Jan. 4 to the same charges Murray faces. 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.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.