February 6, 2013

Falmouth party jury at impasse, to try again

Divided jurors take an overnight break and will resume seeking a verdict Thursday in the case against two Falmouth parents.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The jury in the trial of two parents from Falmouth who are charged with allowing minors to drink at their home remained deadlocked Wednesday after hours of deliberations.

click image to enlarge

A key witness, Lucas Hallett, who was a Falmouth police officer at the time of the party and is now a Cumberland County sheriff's deputy, is questioned by District Attorney Stephanie Anderson during the trial of Barry and Paula Spencer.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Paula Spencer briefly chats with husband Barry Spencer during a break in the trial on Wednesday.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz polled the jurors around 6 p.m., asking each of them: "Do you believe that if you leave to go home for the evening and restart fresh, that would help?"

The jurors were divided, but the judge found enough who were hopeful that it "might help" to come back Thursday for more deliberations.

Barry and Paula Spencer face seven counts each of allowing minors to possess or consume alcohol at a party they hosted at their home on Fieldstone Lane on June 16, after their son's baseball team won the high school Class B state championship.

The party got out of control after its numbers grew, when Falmouth High School's championship lacrosse team and students from out of town joined in.

Cumberland County's top prosecutor, District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, is prosecuting the case.

She has said the Spencers knew that minors were drinking at their home and did nothing to stop it.

"There was a tacit agreement, a tacit understanding, that it was OK to drink as long as you weren't too obvious about it, as long as you didn't get too smashed," Anderson said in her closing argument Wednesday.

"That was the Spencer code that evening."

Paula Spencer's attorney, William Childs, said in his closing argument that the Spencers were explicit when they said no drinking would be allowed at the party, and that they tried to stop teenagers from bringing in alcohol.

"They're doing the best they can," Childs said. "This was supposed to be an alcohol-free party."

Barry Spencer's attorney, Walter McKee, said in his closing argument that the party grew from a manageable party at 11 p.m. to as many as 100 kids by the time police shut it down around 11:45 p.m.

"Word got out, 20 became 30, became 40, and maybe as many as 100," McKee said.

Neither Barry nor Paula Spencer testified in their own defense in the trial, which started Monday.

Their attorneys said Barry Spencer spent the evening of the party in his driveway, checking bags and purses of teenagers as they arrived, and dumped out alcohol that he found.

They said Barry Spencer even spoke to a police officer and said he was concerned that teenagers were sneaking alcohol into the party.

The defense called its final witnesses Wednesday -- a lacrosse player's mother who offered to help chaperone the party but missed calls from the Spencers, and a lacrosse player who brought beer to the party and hid it from the Spencers.

Chantal Scott, whose son played on the lacrosse team, said the team held an awards banquet after the championship game. At the end of the banquet, they had leftover pizza and cake.

"We heard the Spencers were holding an alcohol-free event," Scott said, "so we decided that would be a perfect opportunity."

Scott said she brought the leftover food to the Spencers' home and gave them her cellphone number, telling them to call if they needed help.

"If you need an extra set of eyes at the house, making sure that these kids stay in line, call me," Scott recalled saying.

But she went to bed that night without checking her phone, she said, and didn't realize until the next morning that Paula Spencer had tried calling her three times during the night.

(Continued on page 2)

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