A brief verbal fight on Facebook escalated into a physical confrontation in a Caribou parking lot last year that ultimately led to the death of a local man, prosecutors said Monday during opening arguments in a manslaughter trial.
Jonathan Limary, 23, of Presque Isle is on trial in Caribou Superior Court on charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault stemming from the death of 44-year-old Jean C. Bragdon of Caribou on Nov. 17, 2017.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Ellis told jurors Tuesday that Bragdon and Limary were strangers to each other until the evening of Oct. 30, 2017, when the fight happened in the parking lot of a Caribou business.
Bragdon went to the parking lot to fight another man, Andrew Geer, 20, of Caribou, according to Ellis, but Limary brutally kicked a “defenseless” Bragdon in the face after Geer had knocked him down to his knees.
Bragdon suffered devastating facial injuries, including broken and shattered facial bones, and required two reconstructive surgeries, according to court testimony. Approximately 10 hours after he was released from the hospital following his second surgery Nov. 17, 2018, Bragdon collapsed and died in the arms of his best friend, Jason Willette Sr. of Caribou.
Willette Sr. testified Tuesday that the fight stemmed from a dispute between Geer and Jason Willette Jr. on Facebook over nasty comments being made about Brittney Willette, who is Willette Sr.’s daughter and Willette Jr.’s sister.
Bragdon, who was visiting the Willettes, saw the comments, took offense and also started messaging Geer.
Geer, who was 18 years old at the time, testified that he was in an apartment that Limary shared with two other people when the squabble began. He said that after he and Willette Jr. finished their argument, Bragdon messaged him and was “threatening” and “highly inappropriate.”
The messages Bragdon sent to Geer were displayed for jurors in the courtroom. They contained expletives and threatened Geer as well as his friends with physical harm.
Geer said that Bragdon then called him and that Geer put the phone on speaker so others in the apartment could hear the conversation. He testified that once Limary heard what Bragdon was saying about several female friends, he too got upset. Bragdon challenged Geer to meet him at a parking lot in Caribou to fight, and Geer got in the car, along with Limary and other friends, to go there.
The 20-year-old said that he was not expecting a fight, but when he arrived at the parking lot, Bragdon was running toward him with “his arm cocked back,” and screaming, “I want you. I want you.” Geer said that the two scuffled for roughly 90 seconds, with both landing punches and ending up on the ground. But they then broke apart.
“Jean [Bragdon] was just about to stand up,” Geer testified. “And then Jonathan [Limary] came out of nowhere and kicked him in the face. [Bragdon] slumped down.”
Alexis Nichols, who is Geer’s girlfriend, also testified about what she saw at the scene. She said that Limary kicked Bragdon in the face and that the victim’s face was “pretty bloody.”
Bragdon required a tracheostomy to provide an opening in his windpipe so he could breathe during surgery, which left a hole in his neck that doctor’s bandaged, according to testimony. Several hours after Bragdon returned to Willette Sr’s apartment Nov. 17 to recover, he began bleeding badly.
Willette Sr. testified that he tried to help Bragdon into the bathroom, but he soon saw blood running down his neck. He said that Bragdon “couldn’t breathe and was gasping for air,” before he collapsed. Willette Sr. performed CPR and called for an ambulance, but Bragdon was pronounced dead when EMTs arrived at the scene.
Attorney Adam Swanson, who is representing Limary, told jurors that Limary’s use of physical force against Bragdon was necessary to protect himself and others. He said that Limary did not cause Bragdon’s death. Under cross examination, Swanson got Willette Sr. to acknowledge that Bragdon was disoriented but “still furious” after he was kicked by Limary and that Willette Sr. had to stop Bragdon from going back after the others. Attorney Hunter Tzovarras is assisting in Limary’s defense.
Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II is presiding over the trial, which continues Wednesday.
This story originally appeared on The County.