Convicted killer Bobby Nightingale appeals conviction and life sentence

9 months ago

Bobby Nightingale, 42, of Presque Isle has appealed his 2022 murder convictions and sentencing in the 2019 killing of Allen Curtis and Roger Ellis, both of Castle Hill. 

Superior Court Justice Stephen Nelson sentenced Nightingale to life in prison after a jury convicted him on two murder counts, two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. 

“Roger and Allen are dead. They had a lot of living left to do,” Nelson said during sentencing. “Mr. Curtis just crested his 25th birthday and he was murdered on the night of his birthday party simply on his way home. The families and communities of both men have been deprived of their presence and friendship.”

In his appeal, Nightingale argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial after the prosecutor referenced the jurors’ significant civic duty to serve as jurors, improperly told the jury that it must find Nightingale guilty, and improperly told the jury that Nightingale’s evidence was not believable.

He also claims that the court erred in giving the jury an instruction on accomplice liability because the evidence did not generate the instruction; that the court abused its discretion by not allowing Nightingale to question a detective regarding the detective’s hearing multiple calls between Nightingale and his attorney while Nightingale was in jail; and in sentencing Nightingale, the court erred by not considering other sentences for similar offenses in the first step of the sentencing analysis.

During sentencing, Nelson said he imposed the maximum sentence because of the senseless cruelty involved in the commission of the murders and the effect on the victims’ families.

Additionally, Nightingale’s criminal history, including significant time in prison, charges of burglary, theft, firearm possession by a felon, assault, attempted aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a weapon, substantially outweighed the lack of mitigating factors, Nelson said.

The men’s bodies were found in Ellis’ 2007 red Silverado pickup truck on the State Road in Castle Hill shortly after midnight on Aug. 13, 2019.

Nelson said that the men were shot at close range execution-style, and that there was evidence that Nightingale was searching for the victims and planned the killing.

Prior to his trial, Nightingale’s attorney Jack Tebbetts asked the court to dismiss the charges because a detective may have overheard confidential calls between Nightingale and his defense attorney. Additionally, Tebbetts filed a change-of-venue motion to move the case to a more impartial area of the state.

Nelson denied the motions.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin and defense attorney Verne Paradie Jr. will present oral arguments before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court regarding Nightingale’s appeal at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. 

Nightingale is serving his life sentence in the Maine State Prison.