November 18, 2013

Augusta man says he ‘blacked out’ just before stabbing

Justin Pillsbury is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Jillian Jones.

By Craig Crosby
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A city man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death last week inside an apartment told a roommate he discovered her talking to another man on the phone, adding that he blacked out and “screwed up,” according to court documents released Monday.

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APPEARANCE: Justin Pillsbury, 38, is escorted into Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on Monday for his initial appearance on murder charges in the death of Jillian Jones. On Wednesday, Jones was found stabbed to death at the Crosby Street apartment in Augusta where she lived with Pillsbury. Pillsbury was charged with murder Friday afternoon at MaineGeneral Medical Center, where he was being treated for self-inflicted stab wounds.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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APPEARANCE: Justin Pillsbury, 38, makes his initial appearance Monday at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on murder charges in the death of Jillian Jones.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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Justin Pillsbury Affidavit

Justin G. Pillsbury, 38, who is charged with murdering 24-year-old Jillian Jones Wednesday night inside their apartment at 32 Crosby St., made the comments to roommate Michael St. Pierre, State Police Detective Christopher Tremblay wrote in an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Tremblay’s affidavit says Pillsbury confessed to detectives that he stabbed and killed Jones. A state medical examiner determined she suffered three wounds — one above the ear, one on the right side of the neck and one under her chin — according to the affidavit.

Pillsbury, who had serious injuries from stab wounds police say he inflicted upon himself after stabbing Jones, was arrested Friday night at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. Wearing a large loose bandage around the front and left side of his neck, Pillsbury made his first appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court Monday.

Jones’ family members, including her father, a brother and a sister-in-law, attended the hearing Monday.

“The father is devastated,” said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who spent several minutes with Jones’ family after the hearing. “They are a very nice family.”

On Sunday, about 150 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Bingham to mourn Jones’ death. Jones grew up in the small town and was remembered as a sweet and loving person who was enrolled as a student at a Waterville beauty school at the time of her death.

‘Everyone needs to step up’

Jones is the first person in Augusta to die as a result of a homicide this year, but hers is the 20th such death in Maine in 2013, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. Eight of those 20 homicides have been the result of domestic violence.

Stokes lauded the push by Gov. Paul LePage and others reduce domestic violence across the state, but despite those efforts, domestic violence continues to lead to about half of all homicides in the state, Stokes said. The vast majority of those cases is violence perpetrated by men against women, he said.

“We still have not made a significant dent,” Stokes said.

Deborah Shepherd, executive director of the Family Violence Project in Augusta, said change will only occur as the community becomes more involved by reporting suspected violence and encouraging victims to seek help.

“Everyone needs to step up to the plate,” she said. “You can’t just leave it to law enforcement and advocates.”

The Family Violence Project offers assistance to victims and to those looking for a way to approach someone. “Domestic violence is tragic and unjustifiable,” Shepherd said. “We feel outrage and sorrow for Jillian’s family and for those impacted by her murder.”

Held without bail

On Monday, Pillsbury softly said, “Yes I do,” when Justice Michaela Murphy asked if he understood the charge against him and the minimum 25-year prison sentence if convicted. As he was leaving the courthouse, Pillsbury told a reporter he had no comment. Attorney James Lawley represented Pillsbury at the hearing and offered no comment on the case.

Murphy ordered Pillsbury to be held without bail until a Friday hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. Stokes said the state would seek to have Pillsbury held without bail through his trial.

Tall and lean with tightly cropped hair and beard, Pillsbury was wearing jailhouse orange, and shuffled into the courtroom in ankle shackles. A short row of surgical staples closed what appeared to be a small puncture wound on the left side of his neck. A large cast-like bandage covered a portion of his hand and extended half way up to his elbow. There was a small flexible bandage over his left index finger. His unbandaged hand was shackled to his waist as he was moved in and out of the courthouse.

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