Jurors begin deliberating in County murder case
HOULTON, Maine — Jurors began deliberating Tuesday evening the fate of a Massachusetts man who is accused of robbing and killing an Oakfield man more than two years ago.
Twelve jurors went into the jury room to deliberate the case against Marcus Asante shortly after 2:40 p.m. during the fifth day of the murder trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou. Justice Harold Stewart II released them for the night at about 6 p.m.
The trial started at the Houlton Superior Court on Nov. 13, but moved to Caribou for the day Tuesday due to a scheduling conflict. The court also was not in session last Friday because of a snow storm.
The 23-year-old Fitchburg, Massachusetts man is accused of killing Douglas Morin Jr., 31, of Oakfield on Oct. 16, 2016, when an argument broke out over a drug deal. Prosecutors allege that Asante pulled the trigger and shot Morin as he sat in his Lincoln Town Car on the PD Road in Sherman that day. Darin Goulding 29, of Leominster, Massachusetts, and Tia Leigh Ludwick, 24, also of Leominster, Massachusetts, were in the car and also charged in connection with the crime.
Ludwick pleaded guilty in February to murder and robbery and was sentenced in April to 17 years in prison.
Goulding pleaded guilty in February to robbery in exchange for the state dismissing a murder charge against him if he agreed to testify against Asante.
According to Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, Ludwick, who was Morin’s cousin, had contacted Morin about buying ten pounds of marijuana from him.
Goulding testified last week that the trio had no intention of paying for the marijuana and planned to steal it from Morin when they met with him on the rural woods PD Road to complete the transaction. He said that while the group was inside Morin’s car, Morin pulled out his marijuana and asked for payment. It was then, Goulding said, that Ludwick, who was in the front passenger’s seat, grabbed the bag and Morin, who was in the driver’s seat, began tugging it back. He said that he saw Morin brandish a silver gun and that Asante, who was sitting in the back seat behind Morin, had a black gun and began firing.
When he took the stand in his own defense on Monday, Asante testified that he had saved up $15,000 and borrowed another $5,000 from his cousin to buy 10 pounds of marijuana from Morin.
But he told the jurors that when he looked in the duffel bag that Morin had brought, he did not think there was that much in it.
An argument broke out and Morin pulled a gun on them, Asante said. That’s when Goulding shot him, Asante testified.
Under cross examination from Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, Asante confirmed that he was seated behind Morin in the Town Car, and he also acknowledged that he stole Morin’s marijuana after he was murdered.
He also confessed that he gave police conflicting statements about the events when he was first arrested because he “didn’t want to get into trouble.”
During closing statements Tuesday, Alsop reiterated that only Asante was responsible for killing Morin. He said that the .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun bullets retrieved from Morin’s body were “consistent” with ammunition found in Asante’s possession when he was eventually arrested in Massachusetts.
The prosecutor also stressed that Asante had confessed that he had been sitting directly behind Morin in the car, which is where Kimberly James, a forensic scientist for the state police crime lab, testified Monday is the only place from which the shots that killed Morin could have been fired. James said that the headrest had areas that tested positive for burned gunpowder residue and for lead, and had areas of dark soot on it.
Goulding was sitting behind the passenger’s seat, according to testimony.
“Asante shot [Morin] and left him dead,” Alsop told the jurors. “He had Morin’s marijuana with him when the police raided the apartment where he was staying. … Make no mistake about it. This was murder and it was intentional.”
Defense Attorney Brian Kelley stressed to the jury that Asante was a scared kid who lied to police because he was overwhelmed by being questioned by police.
He sought to shift the blame to Goulding, telling the jury that it was more likely that he was the one who shot Morin.
He told the jury that Maine State Police investigators had lied to Asante during their initial interview, telling him that they had his DNA on certain items when they did not.
He also told jurors that Asante didn’t have to take the stand in his own defense, and painted him as a nervous young man who made a mistake and got “in over his head.”
“Police were only interested in my client,” he said, “They never looked anywhere else.”
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before taking a break and returned to the courtroom just after 5 p.m. to have testimony read back to them from Goulding about whether he possessed a gun at the crime scene and why Ludwick did not testify at the trial. Justice Stewart released them at about 6 p.m. and they are expected to return to court in Houlton Wednesday to continue deliberations.