Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AUGUSTA — A profanity-laden exchange among several men at The Chez Paree bar in Waterville’s South End just prior to the 1 a.m. closing last April led to an assault outside the bar that left one man unconscious and two others fleeing as they clutched their stab wounds.
The prosecutor and the defense attorney on Wednesday laid out their views of how motorcyclist Albe Arthur Lagasse, 45, of Bangor, ended up in Kennebec County Superior Court charged with two counts of aggravated assault in the knifings of Carl A. Hunter and Michael Dicent.
Lagasse was indicted by a grand jury last September on the felony charges, each of which carry a maximum 10-year prison term. He has pleaded not guilty. The trial, which is being heard before Justice Michaela Murphy, is expected to last for at three days.
In his opening statement Wednesday morning, Assistant District Attorney David Spencer warned jurors they would hear from witnesses who were “rough people,” but that the victims deserved justice.
“Let’s bring some civilization back to this whole situation,” he said. “Let’s bring some civilization back to this corner of Waterville.”
Lagasse initially picked up a bottle at The Chez Paree on Water Street, apparently to defend himself from the men verbally abusing him, but then became calmer and placed it on a table, where a female bartender removed it, according to Spencer.
Spencer said the same bartender warned Lagasse to watch out as he left because the men who threatened him would be waiting outside.
The prosecutor said Lagasse told the bartender not to worry and showed her a small silver knife.
At that point, she called police.
That’s where the defense’s version of events differs.
Lagasse’s attorney, Zachary Brandmeir, said that the bartender actually saw a silver clip — similar to a carabiner — that Lagasse had on his belt.
“This case is about an assault on Albe Lagasse,” Brandmeir told jurors in his opening statement.
He said Hunter and Dicent and a third man waited for Lagasse and jumped him as soon as he opened the door of The Chez.
“He walks outside and he gets literally blind-sided by one of the alleged victims,” Brandmeir said.
He said Hunter and Dicent and a third man took turns punching and kicking Lagasse, and eventually knocked him out with a knee to the face.
“The evidence will show the two stab victims left the scene, but my client stayed,” Brandmeir said.
Lagasse was interviewed at the Waterville Police Department for more than three hours following the melee.
Police followed a trail of blood from the scene outside the bar to an apartment on nearby Sherwin Street, where they found Hunter with wounds to his chest, including one that doctors said had punctured his lung. Dicent was found with a deep cut on his elbow and a number of wounds to his groin area. The men were treated at area hospitals.
Waterville police said at the time that none of the men were cooperative with investigators.
Hunter, 19, is currently serving a seven-year sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren for robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy last year in Waterville.
Dicent, 35, was arrested by Waterville police last Saturday on a warrant.
Much of the action inside the bar was recorded by security cameras, and the jurors on Wednesday watched a video of events inside the bar.
Betty Adams — 621-5631