November 30, 2012

Nelson trial adjourns early on Friday because of evidence issues

Prosecutors want to check Kingfield gravel pit for bullet that might match slug in Anson murder trial, says defense attorney

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- The trial of Robert Nelson, the man charged with a murder in Anson three years ago, adjourned early Friday because of issues invoving the evidence, Justice John Nivison announced Friday morning.

click image to enlarge

Robert Nelson is led into Somerset Superior Court in Skowhegan on Monday, for the first day of his trial in the shooting death of Everett L. Cameron.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

Defense attorney John Alsop said state prosecutors are trying to find more evidence, but they declined to comment about the delay.

Alsop said they asked the court for permission to go to a gravel pit in Kingfield, where they believe they might find a bullet that would match the one used in the murder.

Nelson, 41, is accused of having killed Everett L. Cameron, who was found dead Oct. 31, 2009, with a gunshot wound to the head in his pickup truck on Town Farm Road.

Defense attorney Phil Mohlar said that in a trial by jury, it would be extremely unusual for the court to delay based on circumstances of the evidence; however, since Nivison will decide the case, he said it is not that unusual. Nelson waived his right to a jury earlier in the month.

"If there is no jury, I would say this is not too unusual. Judges do have the discretion to control the pace of the trial," said Malick Ghachem, a law professor specializing in criminal law at the University of Maine Law School in Portland.

Ghachem said that while judges might be reluctant to postpone a jury trial, they are more flexible with their own schedules.

Earlier in the week, the court heard the testimony of Nelson's friends and family, who said he had a drug addiction problem and owed Cameron money for oxycodone pills. Nelson also has been established as the last person known to have had contact with Cameron, according to cellphone records and witness accounts introduced in court this week.

On Thursday the defense brought up what it believed to be errors in the police investigation of the case, including the lack of forensic evidence tying Nelson to Cameron's murder and the failure of police to investigate other potential suspects.

Also Friday morning, the court heard testimony from two witnesses, Anson residents Cathy and Matthew Sleeper, who said they had seen a vehicle other than Nelson's car at the scene around the time Cameron is believed to have been killed.

The trial is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Monday in Somerset County Superior Court.

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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