BANGOR, Maine — A hearing on a new trial motion for one of two men convicted last year in connection with the Bangor triple murder 2½ years ago that police called a drug deal gone bad will be held Thursday afternoon at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Randall Daluz, 37, of Brockton, Massachusetts, is seeking a new trial. His co-defendant, Nicholas Sexton, 34, of Warwick, Rhode Island, is not.
Attorneys for Daluz claim their client was denied a fair trial because of improper statements made by then-Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese and Sexton’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, during their closing arguments to the jury and because the defendants were tried jointly. Both defendants opposed a joint trial numerous times before and during the trial.
The Maine attorney general’s office has opposed the motion, contending both men received a fair trial despite the outcome.
The Penobscot County jury found Daluz guilty May 28 on three counts of murder and one count of arson after a month-long trial. After deliberating for nearly 45 hours over five days, jurors found Sexton guilty of the murder of Nicolle Lugdon and of arson, but they could not reach a verdict on the murder counts in connection with the deaths of Daniel Borders and Lucas Tuscano.
The charred bodies of Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, Borders, 26, of Hermon and Tuscano, 28, of Bradford were found in a burning rental car Aug. 13, 2012, at 22 Target Industrial Circle in Bangor. They had been shot to death, and the car they were in was set on fire to destroy evidence, according to testimony.
Sexton took the stand May 19 and said Daluz shot Borders accidentally but killed Tuscano and then Lugdon intentionally. Sexton said that Daluz forced him to set the car on fire and threatened to kill him and his children if he went to the police.
Daluz did not take the stand.
The motion for a new trial was filed in June by Daluz’s attorneys, Hunter Tzovarras and Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor.
“[Toothaker’s] closing arguments asked the jury to place themselves in Mr. Daluz’s shoes and suggested at least twice that Mr. Daluz could not explain the events of Aug. 12-13, 2012,” Tzovarras wrote in the motion. “These comments implicate Mr. Daluz’s right to remain silent and contrasted his silence to Mr. Sexton’s testimony. In addition, [Sexton’s attorney] made comments in his closing argument that Mr. Daluz (an African-American) was the more likely defendant to carry a firearm because he was a minority and that he came from a dangerous neighborhood.”
The motion said Marchese’s closing argument implied that “the standard of proof in a case involving a fire is less than a non-fire case or involved something less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Motions for new trials often are filed in murder trials prior to defendants being sentenced. They are almost always denied but often are the basis for appeals to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Sentencing dates for Sexton and Daluz have not been set. Both men face between 25 years and life in prison.
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