Wednesday, December 4, 2013
JACKMAN -- The state attorney general has concluded that the shooting death of a Jackman man by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in June was justified.
Charles E. Robinson
Charles Robinson, 75, was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire with agents Jamie Tierney and Chris Demanski at Robinson's home June 23 on Long Pond Road.
Attorney General William J. Schneider said it was reasonable for the agents to believe that unlawful deadly force was being used against them and therefore reasonable to respond with deadly force. Robinson was intoxicated and fired at the agents, striking Tierney with pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun, according to the report.
Robinson's housemate at the time, Maria Sepers, 63, of Jackman, said Tuesday she is not surprised by the conclusion because Robinson was drunk that night, had threatened to kill her and shot at the border patrol agents when they entered the house.
Sepers said she had called for an ambulance that night from the Jackman Regional Health Center, where she went after Robinson fell inside the house and she couldn't get him up. When she tried to call for help from the house, he ripped the phone from her hand.
Sepers said she told emergency medical personnel at the clinic what had happened.
"I said that he had been acting irrationally. He was very drunk. He threatened me and he fell," Sepers said. "I couldn't get him up and I thought this is my opportunity to get him to a hospital. When I tried to call, he pulled the phone out of my hand."
When she got to the clinic, she said she told them Robinson was "mentally out of it" and that there was a gun in the house.
"My argument is that they never should have entered the house," she said. "All they had to do was wait until he fell asleep."
Sepers said she was told that emergency medical personnel would not go into the house without law enforcement backup because there was a gun in the house.
"We weren't fighting," Sepers said. "There was nothing physical except when he pulled the phone out of my hand."
According to the release Tuesday from the attorney general's office, it was not clear where Sepers was when she called for help.
"At the time of these notifications to law enforcement, it was not known that the female companion had left the residence," according to the release.
The agents also were aware of a similar call in March, when Robinson was arrested on domestic violence charges involving Sepers. He served 12 days in jail after a plea agreement.
In the June incident, the agents approached the house and, hearing nothing from inside, announced their presence and made it clear that whoever was inside should show himself, according to the report. They entered the house and saw Robinson behind a barrier about 15 feet away.
Tierney was struck by the gunfire, later found to be a shotgun round that expelled a single shot of more than 200 pellets.
Both agents returned fire. A slug from Tierney's .40-caliber handgun killed Robinson.
Tierney received medical treatment, including the removal of several pellets from his body. His protective vest had stopped several more pellets.
Other border patrol agents set up a perimeter around the house until the Maine State Police Tactical Team arrived.
Margaret Greenwald, the state's chief medical examiner, determined the cause of Robinson's death to be a single gunshot wound that entered and left his upper left arm and then the chest.
The autopsy found that Robinson had a blood alcohol level of 0.155, nearly twice the 0.08 legal threshold to drive legally in Maine.
Sepers said she is upset because she has been denied victims' compensation from the state for loss of income in Robinson's death.
She said Robinson was the sole breadwinner in their household and his death has left her struggling financially.
"I was very upset in that they implied I was a co-conspirator in the whole incident," she said Tuesday. "I think they're denying me because he died committing a felony."
Sepers said she was informed in a letter from Deborah Shaw-Rice, director of the Attorney General's Victim Compensation Program, that she is ineligible for state payments.
The letter said that denial of recovery extends to cases in which the Victims Compensation Board finds that a mutual assault took place that night, or that a claimant -- Sepers -- was an accomplice or a co-conspirator in a crime and that evidence in the case does not support that she was an innocent victim.
Martha Demeritt, executive assistant to the attorney general, said Tuesday because of state confidentiality rules, she can't discuss Seper's claim for compensation. She said Sepers can appeal the decision.
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367