Randall Daluz, 37, of Brockton, Massachusetts, was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to life in prison on three counts of murder and 20 years on an arson charge, to be served concurrently.
A few hours earlier, Nicholas Sexton, 34, of Warwick, Rhode Island, was sentenced to 70 years in prison on one count of murder to be followed by 20 years in prison on one count of arson.
The family and friends of Nicolle Lugdon, Daniel Borders and Lucas Tuscano emotionally told a Superior Court judge Tuesday morning at the Penobscot Judicial Center how the brutal slayings of the three young adults have affected their lives.
They urged Justice William Anderson to send the men convicted in connection with the deaths to prison for the rest of their lives.
After Anderson sentenced Daluz and left the courtroom, Lugdon’s adoptive mother, Barbara Pineau, said, “Amen.” She stood up and high-fived family members of the other victims.
Family members declined to talk with reporters after the sentencings.
Before sentencing the duo, Anderson watched a video prepared by the Tuscano family and a slideshow made up of photos of Lugdon. Borders’ mother, Debbie Borders, intended to address Anderson but said through the victim/witness advocate she was unable to do so.
Tuscano’s mother, Cheryl Tuscano-Pavelka, called the defendants “monsters.” She told the judge they should not be able to communicate with their own families, because her son no longer can speak with his family.
She said that her son never was able to hold his daughter, who was born 16 days after he was killed.
Pineau, who adopted Lugdon as a teenager, said the young woman’s troubled youth allowed her to be drawn into the drug world. Lugdon’s mother died of an overdose when the girl was in her early teens, Pineau said.
Less than a year later, Lugdon’s father killed his mother in a fight over drugs, she told Anderson. Lugdon witnessed the murder. The teenager was in foster care when she went to live with Pineau in Aroostook County.
“I lecture her ashes every day,” Pineau, who knew Lugdon used drugs, told Anderson.
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 at the men’s trial last year.
Jurors found Daluz guilty May 28, 2014, on three counts of murder and one count of arson after a monthlong trial. After deliberating for nearly 45 hours over five days, jurors found Sexton guilty of the murder of Lugdon and of arson, but they could not reach a verdict on the murder counts in connection with the deaths of Borders and Tuscano.
Daluz and Sexton told different versions of the events that led to the deaths of Lugdon, Borders and Tuscano.
Sexton took the stand May 19, 2014, and said Daluz shot Borders accidentally but killed Tuscano and then Lugdon intentionally. Sexton said 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. He told police Sexton shot all three people and maintains he is innocent.
Sexton did not address the judge Tuesday. His aunt Ann Marie Yule described Sexton as “an awesome nephew, son, father” who “is loyal and has a big heart.” His mother attended the sentencing but did not address the court.
Daluz told the judge that he did not harm anyone. He offered his “deepest, sincerest condolences.”
“I did not kill Nikki, Dan or Lucas,” he said. “I stopped selling drugs to Dan because I heard he had overdosed a couple of times.”
He spoke about his conversion to Christianity while awaiting trial and how he works with other inmates to help them understand how the Bible can help them find peace.
Daluz’s spiritual adviser, Tom Shuford, and his wife, Terry Shuford, who maintains Daluz’s website about his Bible studies, urged the judge to consider the convicted killer’s religious conversion in imposing the sentence.
The eldest of Daluz’s five children told Anderson that Daluz was a good, attentive father who urged them to pursue their educations.
In sentencing both men, the judge said that exactly what happened the night Lugdon, Borders and Tuscano died will never be known. Anderson said that the evidence showed that Sexton was angry with Borders for going to another drug supplier.
“When the defendants picked up Dan Borders, Nicolle Lugdon and Lucas Tuscano came along for the ride,” the judge said. “I believe that Borders was shot first and Tuscano was killed because he was a witness.”
Lugdon was alive in the car with Sexton and Daluz and two dead bodies for at least an hour, while the two men drove around “deciding what to do with her.” Anderson said he believes she probably was hysterical and begged for her life.
“I don’t believe any heart was shown by either defendant throughout this night,” he said.
The judge also rejected Daluz’s contention that the verdict was racist because he is African-American.
“The verdict was not a product of any racial prejudice but of the evidence presented at trial,” Anderson said.
Sexton and Daluz faced between 25 years and life in prison on convictions for murder. Each man also faced up to 30 years in prison on arson convictions.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who prosecuted the case with Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman, recommended in separate memoranda that each man be sentenced to life in prison for murder and to an additional 20 years for arson.
Daluz’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, urged Anderson, who presided over the trial, to impose a sentence of less than life but did not make a specific recommendation in his memorandum. Tzovarras said Daluz’s jail conversion to Christianity and his efforts to minister to other inmates was a major mitigating factor in determining what sentence should be imposed.
Bangor attorney David Bate, who along with Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth defended Sexton at the trial, asked the judge to impose a 25-year sentence on the murder conviction and 15 years on the arson charge. Bate said in his sentencing memorandum that the time should be served concurrently.
The defendants’ sentencing hearing was scheduled after Anderson denied Daluz’s motion for a new trial earlier this month.
Tzovarras said his client’s convictions would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.