BELFAST, Maine — Thomas Bonfanti, a Northfield man accused of killing three people and severely wounding a fourth in a February 2020 shooting spree, was found guilty Wednesday evening on all counts.
Bonfanti, 65, reacted stoically, staring straight ahead while seated at the defense table as the verdict was announced. The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for nearly 2 1/2 hours before finding Bonfanti guilty.
He testified earlier Wednesday, telling the jury that he shot two victims by accident. He was showing off his Keltec magnum pistol at Sam Powers’ home when it went off, killing Powers, he said.
Then he went to Jennifer Bryant Flynn’s home in Machias and shot her by accident during an argument, he said. He had his gun because Flynn’s dog was snarling at him, he testified. The gun went off when Flynn threw something that hit his arm as he was holding the gun.
Bonfanti said that he then went to a home in Machias shared by Regina Hall Long and Shawn Currey. He shot them both after his gun fell out of his coat pocket and they jumped toward him to try to grab the gun, he said. That’s different from Long’s testimony of the events in which she said Bonfanti got the gun out of his coat after he stopped by for what she thought was a social visit. She’d given him a cup of coffee. But then he held the gun to her neck and, after she told him they could talk things over if he put the gun down, he shot her in the neck.
Long was the only one to survive being shot. Powers, Flynn and Currey all died before police were alerted to the shootings.
Robert “Bud” Ellis, who prosecuted the case with fellow Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, said after court adjourned that Bonfanti’s claims that he shot two people by accident — at two locations and then shot two people in self-defense at a third location, all in the matter of a few minutes, was “pure and utter nonsense.”
He said that Bonfanti kept bringing up in his testimony an embezzlement case at the American Legion hall in Machias, where Bonfanti served as an officer. The alleged embezzlement had “nothing to do with” the shootings, Ellis said.
It was never clear what Bonfanti’s motive was, but the motive was irrelevant to the fact that he shot four people, killing three of them, Ellis said.
“That remains a mystery,” Ellis said. “There are all kinds of theories that weren’t fully played out in court. It could be multi-layered. We don’t really know.”
The families of the victims were happy with the guilty verdicts, he said
“Three horrific murders were committed and Regina Long, who came in and testified, was an absolute tower of power,” Ellis said. “We felt the evidence was very strong and compelling from the beginning of the case.”
Bonfanti’s attorney, Jeff Toothaker, said that Bonfanti thanked him for representing him but had little reaction and said nothing else after the verdict was announced.
Toothaker said that Bonfanti’s explanation of what happened was “a tough sell.” A jury might have been willing to believe him if only one person or maybe two people were shot.
“It’s hard to argue innocence when you have multiple victims like that,” Toothaker said.
With the guilty verdicts, Bonfanti has been convicted of murdering Flynn, 49, of Machias; Powers, 33, of Jonesboro; and Currey, 57, of Machias. Bonfanti also was convicted Wednesday of one count of aggravated attempted murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault, both Class A felonies, in the shooting of Long, now 51.
Bonfanti’s sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but is expected to take place in Machias. A conviction for murder in Maine is punishable by 25 years to life in prison, while convictions on Class A crimes are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.