A Morrill man accused of shooting 26-year-old Shane Sauer to death in March pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to the charge of intentional or knowing murder.
Austin McDevitt, 22, who is being held in jail without bail until his trial, was arraigned in a brief hearing at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast. Family members declined to speak with the media after the hearing.
According to the state police affidavit filed in connection with McDevitt’s arrest, Sauer, of Belfast, allegedly had been shot to death on March 15 after a dispute over a woman. McDevitt and the woman had been sleeping in a camper in Swanville at about 4:30 a.m. when Sauer, who had previously been romantically connected to the woman, allegedly snuck inside. McDevitt told police that he woke up to Sauer hitting him in the face, and the two men fought inside the camper, which was located behind a mobile home where the woman’s family lived.
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Then they separated, which is when McDevitt allegedly went to his car to get a handgun, according to the affidavit. The woman told police that Sauer briefly stayed inside with her, that he was crying and upset because she was with McDevitt and that she held his hand while they were leaving the camper.
McDevitt, who now was armed, allegedly shot Sauer after he walked outside according to the affidavit. He told police that Sauer had allegedly threatened to kill him, but said that Sauer’s hands were empty and that he was not coming towards McDevitt when he started to shoot.
McDevitt told police he pointed his gun at Sauer’s chest because “he knew not to shoot to wound.”
“Without either party saying a word, McDevitt fired a round at Sauer,” the affidavit states. “McDevitt said that Sauer said ‘ouch’ and then fell to the ground.”
McDevitt shot Sauer three more times before he fell to the ground, then shot him three times when he was on the ground, according to the affidavit.
[Love triangle led to man being shot 7 times in Swanville, police say]
An autopsy allegedly confirmed that Sauer had been shot seven times, including three shots to the head.
McDevitt told police he fired “every bullet he had at Sauer,” according to the affidavit. He said he was concerned about accidentally hitting the woman while shooting at Sauer “because that would be an extra charge.”
After shooting Sauer, McDevitt said he did not try to help Sauer. Instead, he walked past Sauer’s body and went back into the house to find his boots. When he couldn’t find them, McDevitt left the scene because the woman’s family came outside and “were hostile toward him,” according to the affidavit.
McDevitt then drove to the Belfast Police Department to report the incident.
[Bail denied for man accused of murder]
At a hearing in April to determine if McDevitt should be allowed bail, his defense attorney Rick Morse of Rockland painted a picture of a young man who was in “significant confusion, pain and fear” when he woke up to a severe beating at the hands of Sauer. Morse said that McDevitt was afraid that Sauer would kill him and that his client acted in valid self-defense when he shot and killed him. McDevitt then drove to the police station to turn himself in.
“He did absolutely the most responsible thing,” Morse said in April.
But Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, described Sauer’s death as an “execution-like murder.”
“If there were ever a suggestion of overkill, and I use that term not loosely here, it’s this case,” she said at the April hearing.
McDevitt’s next court date will be held on Aug. 26.
BDN writer Lauren Abbate contributed to this report.