December 30, 2012

2012 a year of violence, justice and renewal


In 2012, central Maine saw violent deaths, numerous pharmacy robberies, a natural gas war, progress on construction of a new $312 million regional hospital and $55 million courthouse, and the flight from Maine of a former prosecutor free on bail while his child pornography convictions were appealed.

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Augusta and state police surround the CVS pharmacy on Capitol Street in Augusta on nov. 28, after the store was robbed of narcotics. Augusta led the state in pharmacy robberies in 2012, with nine of the record-number 54 robberies statewide.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

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Attorney Kevin Sullivan, left, sits with Peter George Bathgate II, who pleaded guilty Jan. 27 in Kennebec County Superior Court to intentionally and knowingly murdering Paul Allen.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Other top stories?

The federal indictment of a former Chelsea official on numerous charges including extortion, and mental health patients deemed not criminally responsible for committing violent crimes being moved into group homes in the community.

Here's a roundup of some of the top stories in the Augusta area for the year:

Violent deaths

In 2012, several people were linked to or convicted of homicides that occurred even decades earlier.

Peter George Bathgate, 32, of Augusta, was sentenced in January to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to the December 2010 murder of 47-year-old Paul Allen in Augusta. Police said Bathgate, who believed Allen had flirted with his girlfriend and mother of his child, beat Allen with a cane and stabbed him before running Allen over with his own truck. Allen's body was found alongside Winthrop Street in Hallowell.

Michael Thomas Young, 41, of Augusta, pleaded guilty in December to manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with all but six years suspended, in connection with the June 2011 stabbing death of 46-year-old David Cox inside the Green Street apartment the men shared. Young continues to claim the death was an accident, but the state medical examiner determined Cox died of a stab wound to the heart.

Not all the death cases connected to Central Maine occurred here. A Lake County, Calif., jury in December convicted former Augusta resident Robby Alan Beasley, 32, of two counts of murder and other charges, in connection with the 2010 slaying of former Augusta residents Frank and Yvette Maddox in California. Beasley, who continues to claim he is innocent and plans an appeal, is scheduled to be sentenced in early January.

Beasley's conviction is not the only investigation to extend from Maine to the West Coast. Gary Sanford Raub, 64, was arrested in Seattle in October in connection with the 1976 death of 70-year-old Blanche M. Kimball inside her home on State Street in Augusta. Raub, who continues to await extradition to Maine, is expected to be charged with murder when he arrives in Kennebec County, which is likely to occur in January. The Kimball slaying is the oldest cold case investigation to result in charges in state history.

There was one homicide in Kennebec County in 2012 that did not result in charges. James Dodge, 38, died July 13 after he was stabbed in the chest inside a home at 324 Hanson Road in China which he shared with his girlfriend, Rebecca Bragg, for the past several years. While the state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, meaning it was not self-inflicted, the attorney general's office announced in November that it would not to bring charges because investigators were unable to disprove that Dodge was stabbed in self defense.

School deconsolidation

Five years after passage of a law requiring school districts to consolidate or face financial penalties, dissatisfaction and resentment linger.

That's evident from the wave of municipalities that began to seek a way out of their regional school units as soon as they were legally allowed.

Residents of dozens of municipalities petitioned for withdrawal in 2012 after the end of a 30-month statutory waiting period. Many of the state's RSUs began operating on July 1, 2009, so petitioners could start collecting signatures on Jan. 1, 2012.

In central Maine, Monmouth is negotiating a withdrawal from RSU 2, and Palermo, Westport Island and Wiscasset are all trying to leave eight-town RSU 12. China voters, on the other hand, rejected the chance to start the process of withdrawing from RSU 18.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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The new MaineGeneral regional hospital took shape in North Augusta this year, and is expected to open in late 2013. The current hospital, on East Chestnut Street, was sold to developer Kevin Mattson for $2.5 million.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

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Carole Swan, a former Chelsea selectwoman, was indicted on several federal criminal charges in February. She is accused of receiving kickbacks on state road contracts.

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James Cameron's booking photo, from the Sandoval County Detention Center in New Mexico. Cameron, a former state prosecutor convicted of owning child pornography, fled the state in November and was captured by U.S. Marshals in early December.

Contributed photo

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