January 25, 2013

Winslow man indicted on murder charge in December shooting outside Waterville pub

Matthew Partridge, 30, is charged with intentional or knowing murder for allegedly shooting 26-year-old Justin V. Smith of South China on Dec. 4 outside You Know Who's Pub

STAFF REPORT

AUGUSTA -- A Winslow man on Friday was indicted on a murder charge in connection with last month's shooting death outside a Waterville pub.

click image to enlarge

Matthew Partridge, of Winslow, is led into District Court in Waterville on Dec. 5 for an initial appearance in the shooting death of Justin Smith, of China, in Waterville on Dec. 4. Partridge has been indicted on a murder charge in the case.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Matthew Partridge, 30, is charged with intentional or knowing murder for allegedly shooting 26-year-old Justin V. Smith of South China on Dec. 4 outside You Know Who's Pub.

Partridge continues to be held in lieu of $700,000 cash bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 12.

The indictment was handed up Friday by a grand jury in Kennebec County Superior Court.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial in superior court.

Partridge's attorney, Pamela Ames, did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

Partridge is accused of shooting Smith in the face with a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun around 11 p.m. after a brief altercation between two groups of men.

"The evidence is quite clear," Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said during Partridge's initial court appearance last month. "After an initial altercation he was clearly not involved in ... he armed himself and returned to the scene. The state admits he evidently was struck by the victim. He took his gun and shot the victim."

Ames said during the same hearing that her client was trying to drive away from the scene and that Smith blocked the way and punched Partridge so hard he thought he had a broken nose.

"Smith is the original aggressor, the one who approached the truck, walks up and punches him full force in the face," Ames said. She said Partridge thought he had suffered serious bodily injury and didn't know what was happening -- as though it were a robbery or a car-jacking, she said.

Ames said Partridge, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, had a gun in his truck and used it to defend himself.

"He had a reasonable belief he had to use deadly force," she said. "My client was in fear for his life. That is an affirmative defense for murder."

Smith had been out that night with two other men, Joshua Broad and Christopher Oxley, according to an affidavit filed by Maine State Police Detective Joshua Birmingham. Two strangers, later identified as Tucker Foxwell and Partridge, approached Broad and Oxley outside the pub.

One of the men punched Oxley in the face, but that fight ended after Oxley said he had a concealed weapons permit.

Broad and Oxley went into the pub to get Smith, and the trio came out and approached Partridge's Dodge Dakota pickup. Smith walked up to Partridge and asked, "Who likes to sucker-punch people?"

Partridge then shot Smith with a handgun and drove off, according to Birmingham's affidavit.

Partridge was arrested 20 minutes after the shooting was reported.

 

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