PORTLAND — Malcolm Bruce Davidson, a 51-year-old farmer from Skowhegan who fatally shot a South Portland man last year during sex play, deserves to spend 10 years in prison for his recklessness, his attempts to cover up the crime and his decision to handle guns while under the influence of drugs, a judge ruled Friday.

A jury convicted Davidson in January of manslaughter for taking a gun that he thought was unloaded, pressing it to the head of Fred Wilson, 50, and pulling the trigger. Davidson’s attorney asked for the minimum sentence of four years.

But Justice Robert Crowley agreed with prosecutors that rather than an unfortunate accident, Davidson’s act on April 18 was “extremely reckless,” and that instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he continues trying to deflect blame.

“It is not about lifestyle. It is not about homosexuality. It is not about homosexual behavior,” Crowley said of the sentence. “It is about recklessness, and substance abuse and criminal misuse of firearms.”

Several of Wilson’s friends and his sister read statements before the sentencing in Cumberland County Superior Court, lamenting the loss of a caring neighbor and a conscientious friend, and condemning Davidson for killing him.

“Fred was ripped from my life. My only solace is knowing he died quickly, never knowing what happened,” Kim Wilson said. “That night, Fred took a risk. He put his trust in the wrong person.”

Thomas Hallett, Davidson’s attorney, said the case was exceedingly complex, with the use of drugs and guns during sex a matter of mutual consent between adults.

Davidson, who until recently went by the name Bruce Lavallee-Davidson, said his decision to fight the charges wasn’t made because he didn’t care for Wilson or take responsibility.

“I am a very sick man living on borrowed time,” he said, because he was diagnosed with AIDS in 2005. “Any jail sentence would be a life sentence.”

His voice caught during his statement and later he dabbed his eyes, but he was stoic as the sentence was handed down.

Davidson and Wilson met at Wilson’s house in the Willard Beach section of South Portland for a night of drugs and sex. A third man, James Pombriant, joined them in Wilson’s basement “dungeon.”

Davidson brought a shotgun and a .44-caliber revolver, using the danger of the guns during role-playing as a way to heighten the sexual experience. 

Early in the morning, while Wilson and Pombriant were engaged in sex, Davidson pressed the revolver to Wilson’s head and pulled the trigger twice. The second time, the gun fired.

Davidson said he didn’t know that the gun was loaded and doesn’t know how it got loaded.

Crowley said that fact, and Davidson’s behavior after the shooting, are the reasons he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

“Without any request by Fred Wilson, Malcolm Bruce Davidson put a gun to (Wilson’s) head, pulled the trigger once and then pulled it a second time,” Crowley said. Wilson died about five minutes after the bullet was fired.

Although medical attention likely would not have saved Wilson, the judge said Davidson’s decision not to call authorities at the time showed little concern for Wilson or for justice.

Instead, Davidson washed glasses and wiped down surfaces, took Wilson’s cell phone and computer, discarded the shell casing from the fatal bullet, drove home to Skowhegan and went to bed. He called police 24 hours later, after they had been alerted by Pombriant.

“The defendant only contacted law enforcement when he had run out of options,” Crowley said. That showed a lack of remorse, and an attempt to evade prosecution, he said.

Offsetting that lack of remorse was Davidson’s lack of criminal history, which led Crowley to impose a sentence of 15 years with all but 10 suspended, and three years of probation during which Davidson may not possess guns, alcohol or drugs.
Hallett said his client had not decided whether to appeal the verdict or the sentence.

Davidson, who has been free on bail since he was charged last year, was taken from the courtroom to the Cumberland County Jail. He soon will be transferred to the Maine State Prison.

The court officer was given a large plastic bag with Davidson’s AIDS medications. Davidson was not permitted to say goodbye to the small group of family members and friends who attended the sentencing.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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