A judge on Wednesday denied a request to reduce bail for a man charged with arson and murder in connection with a Robbinston fire that killed another man in October 2020.
Charles Townsend, 32, is accused of killing Wayne Morrill, 66, at Morrill’s Ridge Road home in the Washington County town on Oct. 7, 2020, by setting fire to Morrill’s home.
On Wednesday, Townsend’s defense attorneys asked Justice Bruce Mallonee that Townsend’s bail be reduced from $100,000 to $10,000. Townsend has been held at the Washington County Jail since last November, and has been unable to make bail. He was indicted on the charges on Nov. 18, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Few details about the case or Townsend’s circumstances have been made public — Mallonee on Wednesday declined to unseal the police affidavit in the case, which has been impounded since last fall — but Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea objected to reducing Townsend’s bail in part because his parents are deceased and he owns no property.
He has not worked in eight years, and living by himself, unemployed and under house arrest in an apartment in Calais, which his attorneys said he would do if released, would not provide him with the daily structure that would help ensure that he complies with his bail conditions, she said.
Zainea also said the seriousness of the allegations also justify not reducing Townsend’s bail. After setting the fire, Townsend is alleged to have stood outside watching the flames spread “and did nothing to assist the victim,” she said. After the fire, police could not find Townsend for a few days until they located him in a vehicle owned by a witness in the case, she said.
Nathan Hodgkins, who along with Jeff Davidson represents Townsend in the case, said that Townsend grew up in Washington County and has no connections to anyone outside the county.
“Mr. Townsend is not a flight risk,” Hodgkins told the judge.
Hodgkins told Mallonee that his client is on disability and is unable to work, and has been receiving psychotherapy counseling since he was in middle school.
“He’s had mental and physical issues his whole life,” Hodgkins said. “Part of his issues is severe depression.”
Not reducing Townsend’s bail, he added, is “tantamount to no bail at all.”
The attorneys also discussed with Mallonee an informal request from the Bangor Daily News to unseal the affidavit in the case. Zainea said she has no position on the request, but Townsend’s attorneys objected to unsealing it, saying that no formal motion to do so had been submitted. They also said that names of witnesses in the case should not be released to the media or public out of concern about possible witness intimidation.
“There’s a procedural threshold that needs to be met,” Davidson said.
Citing the defense lawyers’ desire to keep the document sealed, and the lack of a formal motion to unseal it, Mallonee declined to make the affidavit available to the public.