The North Carolina man arrested for killing a Millinocket business owner and wounding his wife was not the shooter, his attorney said after Christopher Murray made his first court appearance in Bangor on Tuesday afternoon.
Murray, 38, of Maxton is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death of Wayne Lapierre, 59, who was shot inside his home Dec. 19 and died in a Bangor hospital three days later, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
“This is apparently a case where they got the wrong guy,” defense attorney David Bate of Bangor said outside the Penobscot Judicial Center after Murray was informed of the charges.
Bate said he met with Murray for about an hour Monday night but had not yet received any paperwork about the case from the Maine attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case.
Police continue searching for a second man wanted in the still-unexplained shootings. Tony Locklear, 43, formerly of East Millinocket, is believed to be at large in North Carolina, where he is wanted on murder charges there for a separate homicide.
Locklear was a truck driver for Emery Lee & Sons, a local construction company, and was last employed there in 2014, according to an employee.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said outside the courthouse Tuesday that the affidavit outlining the facts of the case and showing there was probable cause to issue arrest warrants for the men would not be made public until Locklear is apprehended. She declined to talk about a possible motive.
The deceased victim’s wife, 33-year-old Diem Lapierre of Millinocket, also was shot and hospitalized. Information about her injuries has not been released. She was not in court Tuesday.
Murray is charged with elevated aggravated assault, a Class A crime, in connection with her shooting.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered Murray held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail, the usual practice in a murder case. He tentatively set Murray’s trial for the end of January 2019.
If Locklear is apprehended and returned to Maine relatively soon, the state most likely will seek to have Murray and Locklear tried together and defense attorneys will ask Anderson to have the men tried separately, Bate said.
Murray was not asked Tuesday to enter pleas to the charges because he has not yet been indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury. The grand jury next convenes on Jan. 24 and Feb. 28.
The judge said Murray would be arraigned the first week of March.
After initially refusing to waive extradition to Maine following his arrest on Dec. 27, Murray agreed on Jan. 3 to be returned to Penobscot County to face charges, according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese.
Maine State Police detectives brought Murray to Maine over the weekend, she said.
If convicted of murder, Murray faces between 25 years and life in prison. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the elevated aggravated assault charge.
Lapierre’s funeral was held Saturday at Christ the Divine Mercy Parish, St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Millinocket.
He was born and raised in the St. John Valley but moved to Millinocket in the early 1980s where “he worked in nursing homes while becoming a self-made entrepreneur,” his obituary said. “His perseverance brought him into areas which included businesses such as trucking, owning and operating an appliance and furniture store, excavation and snow removal, apartment buildings and storage units to name a few.”
Lapierre also owned a construction company in Millinocket and grew medical marijuana at several sites in town.
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