The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the conviction of a Portland man convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of his sister’s boyfriend more than two years ago.
Mark Cardilli Jr., now 26, fatally shot Isahak Muse, 22, in an early morning family fight on March 16, 2019, at Cardilli’s parents’ home. Muse had been dating Cardilli’s sister, Chelsey Cardilli, then 17, for about a year when her brother returned home from a stint in the U.S. Army 11 days prior to the shooting.
Muse’s death sparked outrage within Portland’s Somali and immigrant communities. He was born in Portland to immigrant parents from Somalia and attended Deering High School.
In his appeal, argued in April, Cardilli Jr., who is white, argued that he acted in self-defense when he shot the unarmed Black man multiple times with a pistol at close range.
Prosecutors, who sought a conviction for murder, said that Muse was shot in the back and that deadly force was not necessary to remove him from the house even though Muse had stayed past the time by which his girlfriend’s parents said he should leave.
Maine’s highest court agreed with Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills, who presided over Cardilli’s jury-waived trial at the Cumberland County Courthouse in December 2019 and found him guilty of manslaughter in a 53-page ruling that outlined her reasoning.
“The court’s findings regarding the level of ‘threat’ posed by Muse preclude a finding that Cardilli held an objectively reasonable belief that Muse was about to use unlawful, deadly force against anyone in the household,” Justice Ellen Gorman wrote in a 22-page decision. “The court explicitly found that Muse was not armed and that he did not at any time try to grab Cardilli’s gun.”
Mills, who now is retired, sentenced Cardilli in August 2020 to 11 years in prison with all but 7 1/2 years suspended to be followed by four years of probation.
He is incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. His earliest release date is Oct. 30, 2025, according to the Maine Department of Corrections.