December 5, 2013

Vassalboro slaying suspect waives bail hearing

Victim’s friend recalls Namer helping others, giving rides.

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — The man charged with murder in the Nov. 21 death of Thomas Namer agreed to be held without bail Thursday, and a judge ordered a mental evaluation during a brief hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court.

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Hearing: Courtney Shea, 30, appears in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on Thursday for a hearing on the murder charge he faces for allegedly killing Thomas Namer. Namer, 69, of Waterville, was discovered at an abandoned trailer Nov. 21 next to the Vassalboro home that Shea shared with his family.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Thomas Namer

Contributed photo

Courtney D. Shea, 30, of Vassalboro, was scheduled for a Harnish hearing, a special procedure in which the state seeks to extinguish a defendant’s right to bail, but Shea waived that right, at least for the time being.

Justice Michaela Murphy asked Shea to confirm that was his intention, then said the defendant would have to give the state 14 days’ notice if he wanted to seek a bail hearing.

The judge also granted a request by Shea’s defense attorney Brad Grant, to have Shea undergo a mental evaluation by the State Forensic Service that would cover questions of Shea’s competency to stand trial and as well as criminal responsibility.

According to an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot, Shea told police he had been drinking heavily, blacked out and stabbed Namer to death after the 69-year-old man made sexual advances toward him. Shea had called Namer that night, seeking a ride from Vassalboro. Namer frequently gave people rides. Shea also told police Namer had molested him sexually as a child.

Shea, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound man with short-cropped blond hair, wore an orange jail uniform over a long-sleeved gray shirt and said nothing except to acknowledge that he agreed with Grant about waiving the right to the bail hearing.

Afterward, Grant said he had met with Shea several times at the jail in relation to the murder charge. “This is very early in the process,” Grant said about delaying any bail hearing, “Since you only get one shot at arguing for bail, we will wait to receive discovery from the attorney general’s office first.”

The charge of intentional or knowing murder carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison. Shea has yet to be arraigned or enter a plea on the charge.

Grant previously represented Shea on a charge of probation revocation related to a robbery conviction.

Two women watched Thursday’s hearing. One was Namer’s niece; the other was Myra Achorn, of Augusta, who said she had been friends with Namer for the past 10 years.

In fact, the day Namer was killed, he had picked up Achorn at the airport in Bangor and driven her back to Augusta.

“I was with him that day,” she said. Achorn added that she was disgusted that the news media keep repeating Shea’s claims about Namer.

“I didn’t know his personal life,” Achorn said. “He was a friend. I didn’t know about his lifestyle of going to bars at night.”

Achorn said she met Namer when she asked to see the baker at the Dunkin’ Donuts that used to be at the intersection of Western Avenue and Sewall Street.

She praised his work. “‘Your muffins are always gooey in the middle,’” she recalled telling him. “From then on, Tom and I were friends.”

Achorn said Namer at the time lived out of his car. “He was homeless,” she said. “He was waiting for housing to open up. First, he lived in Vassalboro, then he moved to Waterville, where he had grown up.” Namer has previously worked for the Kennebec Water District and prior to that as a bartender, according to relatives.

Achorn said Namer frequently slept in the car in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot because he had to be there at 3:30 a.m. to accept deliveries. Eventually he began working at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Civic Center Drive, and lately he worked as a flagger when his knees could bear it, Achorn said.

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