Jessee Mackin, 36, of Millinocket in the courtroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Tuesday. Mackin is charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 6-month-old Larry Earl Lord in May 2015. Credit: Gabor Degre

The last person who was with 6-month-old Larry Lord before his body suddenly stiffened, then went limp and he became unresponsive on May 5, 2015, is the person responsible for his death, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday as the manslaughter trial of Jessee Mackin began.

“Something terrible happened to Larry,” Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said in her opening statement. “Jessee Mackin was the only person with him when that happened. Only the defendant, Jessee Mackin, could have inflicted the injury.”

The baby died as a result of bleeding in his brain and a fractured skull, Elam told Superior Court Justice William Anderson.

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Mackin, 36, of Millinocket will take the stand and deny hurting the baby, defense attorney Stephen Smith of Augusta said in his opening statement in the jury-waived trial.

“Jessee Mackin’s only crime is being the sole male person in the household,” Smith said. “There is no dispute that the child suffered this injury, either intentionally or recklessly. The only question is who did it.”

Mackin has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in connection with Larry Earl Lord’s death on May 7, 2015. The baby was born Oct. 24, 2014, in Houlton to Anthony Lord and Jamie Clark.

Anthony Lord, 38, of Crystal is serving two life sentences at the Maine State Prison in Warren in connection with a two-county rampage in July 2015, two months after his son’s death. He was sentenced Aug. 8, 2017, after he pleaded guilty to murdering Kyle Hewitt, 22, of Benedicta and Kevin Tozier, 58, of Lee; shooting and wounding Kim Irish, 57, Clayton McCarthy, 57, and Carlton Eddy, 52, all of Benedicta; and assaulting Kary Mayo, 40, of Silver Ridge with a hammer.

At his sentencing, Lord blamed his actions on the loss of his son and his frustration over how long the investigation was taking. He was not allowed to attend Mackin’s trial, according to the attorney general’s office.

Mackin, who is free on $2 5,000 cash bail, had been dating the baby’s mother when Larry died, Elam said. The family had been displaced by a fire that destroyed their apartment eight days before the baby was injured.

The prosecutor said that Mackin told police the baby woke up on the afternoon of May 5, 2015. Mackin said he changed the baby’s soiled diaper and the baby unrinated on him. He gave the baby a bottle and was trying to console him when Larry suddenly went limp.

Personnel at Millinocket Regional Hospital testified Tuesday that when the boy was brought in by ambulance at about 3:30 p.m. on that date, he was unresponsive and not breathing on his own. The baby was transferred by LifeFlight at about 7:30 p.m. to what is now Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor after it was determined he’d suffered a head injury. The baby died two days later.

The trial is scheduled to last through Friday with Clark, Larry’s mother, expected to testify Wednesday. The judge most likely will issue a written verdict several weeks after the trial ends.

Anderson presided over a similar case three years ago. The judge found Dustin Brown, 25, of Bangor guilty of manslaughter in early 2016 in the death of his 3-month-old son, Zander Brown, on Nov. 25, 2012.

Brown was alone with the baby when he suddenly went limp, according to testimony.

Experts for the prosecution during that trial said the baby died of bleeding and tearing in his brain, an injury most likely caused by violent shaking. A defense expert said he died of cardiac arrest after choking on formula.

Brown, who is incarcerated at the Mountain View Correctional Facility in
Charleston, was sentenced to 12 years with all but 4½ years suspended. His earliest release date is May 1, 2020, according to the Maine Department of Corrections.

If convicted of manslaughter, Mackin faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, as did Brown.