February 12, 2013

Appeal made in Maine topless coffee shop arson

The Associated Press

PORTLAND — Maine's supreme court justices will hear arguments today from a 51-year-old man who's appealing his arson conviction for setting fire to a topless coffee shop in Vassalboro.

Raymond Bellavance is serving 30 years in prison for burning down the Grand View Coffee Shop in June 2009. Prosecutors say he was angry because his former girlfriend was dating the owner.

His attorney is presenting his appeal Tuesday before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that Bellavance was denied a fair trial and an impartial jury.

At Belliveau's sentencing, the judge said she imposed the maximum sentence because it was "sheer luck" nobody was killed. Seven people, including two infants, were living in a room connected to the shop at the time of the fire.

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