In this Feb. 5, 2020, file photo, Thomas Bonfanti is seen during his first court appearance at Calais District Court for three counts of murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The upcoming trial of Thomas Bonfanti, who is accused of shooting and killing 3 people in and around Machias in February 2020, has been scheduled for May 2022 in Belfast.

Bonfanti had requested that the trial be moved out of Washington County out of concern that the jury pool would be tainted by pre-trial publicity. Jury selection in the case is scheduled in Belfast for May 23, with the trial to begin immediately after a jury is seated, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, did not return a message Monday morning.

William Ashe, an Ellsworth attorney who is representing Bonfanti along with Blue Hill attorney John Steed, said that trying the case in Waldo County seemed to be the best compromise. It won’t force witnesses to travel too far to testify but will allow for jurors who weren’t already familiar with the case.

“We did not think that Washington County was the appropriate location,” Ashe said.

Ashe and Steed took over as Bonfanti’s defense attorneys after his prior attorneys, Jeff Silverstein of Bangor and Jacob Ferm of Ellsworth, withdrew from the case in May.

Bonfanti, 64, is charged with murder in the Feb. 3, 2020, shooting deaths of Jennifer Bryant Flynn, 49, of Machias; Samuel Powers, 33, of Jonesboro; and Shawn Currey, 57, of Machias, all of whom were shot at their homes. He also is charged with one count of aggravated attempted murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault in the shooting of Regina Hall Long, 49, who shared a home with Currey and also was shot the same morning. Long survived her injuries.

Bonfanti is believed to have known the victims prior to the alleged shooting spree, but information about what may have triggered or led to their deaths has not been publicly released.

During a court hearing held in March which was held via Zoom, Mallonee had told attorneys that he was leaning toward moving the trial to Bangor, though he said he would wait to decide the matter to give the attorneys time to develop responses either for or against the proposal.

Mallonnee noted that the murder trial of Carine Reeves, a New York man convicted a year ago in the Cherryfield murder of Sally Shaw, was held in Bangor without complications.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....