CARIBOU, Maine — A Presque Isle man was found guilty Friday of manslaughter and aggravated assault after the victim that he seriously injured in a fight died 18 days later.
The judgment against Jonathan Limary, 23, was returned by a jury in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou following a weeklong trial.
Jean C. Bragdon, a 44-year-old dishwasher at Jade Palace in Caribou, died on Nov. 17, 2017, at his best friend’s home. His death occurred in the weeks following a fight on Oct. 30, 2017, during which Limary kicked him in the face after Bragdon had just finished fighting another man. Multiple witnesses testified that Bragdon was “winded” and down on his hands and knees when Limary kicked him.
Jurors began deliberating the case just before 2:30 p.m. and considered the evidence and testimony for more than two hours before passing a note to Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II asking questions about some of the evidence. They then returned to the jury room and delivered their verdict just before 6:30 p.m.
[Police: Manslaughter defendant admitted kicking Caribou fight victim in face]
Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, Maine’s chief medical examiner, testified on Thursday that Limary shattered or fractured more than 15 of Bragdon’s facial bones, including his nasal, orbital, cheek and jaw bones.
Ten hours after he was released from the hospital following the second surgery, which Flomenbaum said was necessary for facial reconstruction and because the broken bones compromised his breathing, Bragdon collapsed and bled to death. His cause of death was listed as hemorrhagic complications following multiple fractures of the facial bones due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Bragdon and Limary were strangers to each other until the evening when the fight happened in the parking lot of a Caribou business. Bragdon went there to fight 20-year-old Andrew Geer of Presque Isle.
Geer testified that after he and Bragdon scuffled for approximately 90 seconds, with each landing punches, before he backed away from the victim. That is when he said Limary “came out of nowhere” and kicked Bragdon.
Limary admitted to police that he had kicked the victim.
Jason Willette Sr., Bragdon’s best friend, testified that the fight stemmed from a dispute between Geer and Jason Willette Jr. on Facebook over comments being made about Brittney Willette, who is Willette Sr.’s daughter and Willette Jr.’s sister.
Bragdon, who was visiting the Willettes, saw the comments, took offense and demanded Geer meet him to fight.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Ellis said during closing arguments Friday that “there was no need to kick Bragdon” as Limary had done.
“The fight was over,” he said. “This was simply retribution. It was to teach Bragdon a lesson…witnesses have testified that Bragdon was winded after the fight, on all fours or with both knees and one hand on the ground, when the kick occurred. The bottom line is that he was defenseless and not a threat to anyone.”
Limary took the stand in his own defense Friday, testifying that he kicked Bragdon to protect himself and others. He said that after Geer and Bragdon finished fighting, he believed that Bragdon was going to get up and continue to fight. At the same time, he said, he thought that friends of Bragdon who had rushed to the scene were going to join in the skirmish.
“Jean was getting up and it looked like he was going to continue to fight,” he said. “My actions were done to prevent it from happening.”
During cross examination, Ellis noted that Limary never mentioned that he feared for his own safety or that of others when he spoke to police the day after the fight. Limary contended that the police never questioned him about his fears or concerns.
Defense Attorneys Adam Swanson and Hunter Tzovarras, who represented Limary, maintained that Limary did not cause Bragdon’s death. Tzovarras said in his closing arguments that Bragdon died from surgical complications after electing to have the second operation.
He noted that when Bragdon was seen at Cary Medical Center in Caribou shortly after the fight, he was discharged after a three-hour visit because his injuries were not life threatening and he was in stable condition. He also said that when he returned to the hospital 10 days later, a physician noted that his condition had “markedly improved.”
He said that Bragdon’s surgery carried a risk of hemorrhaging and even death, but he consented to it.
Ellis argued that Bragdon would never had needed surgery had Limary not kicked him.
Limary sobbed quietly in court after the verdict. Ellis requested that his bail be revoked, but Swanson argued that Limary had been successful on bail for a year and had employment. Stewart allowed him to remain free on bail until his sentencing on June 20 in Houlton.
Relatives of Bragdon also cried quietly after the verdict was announced.