– CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS

Sun Journal

PORTLAND – The state’s highest court has rejected appeals of the convictions and sentences of a Sumner man found guilty last year of killing two men in West Paris in 2008.

Duane Christopher Waterman, 34, had argued through his attorney that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. He also argued that an Oxford County Superior Court judge abused his discretion when he denied Waterman the opportunity to question witnesses on an alternative-suspect theory.

The court also misapplied principles of law when it set Waterman’s basic sentences at life imprisonment and abused its discretion when it set Waterman’s maximum sentences at two concurrent life sentences, his attorney, John Jenness Jr., argued before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court last month.

Waterman was found guilty last year of fatally shooting Timothy Mayberry, 50, of West Paris and Todd Smith, 43, of Paris at Mayberry’s home on Tuelltown Road in Paris on July 25, 2008.

Waterman is serving two concurrent life sentences in prison.

The high court concluded that the “evidence was sufficient for a jury to have rationally found beyond reasonable doubt that it was Waterman who murdered Mayberry and Smith.” Waterman had been angry with Mayberry and said he was going to kill him, the judges wrote in their ruling.

Shortly after neighbors heard gunshots at Mayberry’s house, Waterman’s neighbor saw him driving with his headlights off.

Before the bodies were discovered, Waterman told his wife to say she had sold his .38-caliber gun, which was linked to the bullets found at the crime scene, and he told her she would see news of Mayberry’s slaying on television.

Jenness was seeking to question three people as alternative suspects, but was turned down by the trial judge.

Evidence incriminating another person “must be more than speculative and conjectural,” the high court wrote, quoting from earlier legal rulings.

The defense failed to provide proper factual foundation for making the case that someone else could have committed the crime, the court wrote.

As for Waterman’s sentencing, the high court noted that the legal range of imprisonment for murder is 25 years to life on each count. The trial judge must set a basic sentence by looking at the crime committed, then consider aggravating and mitigating factors specific to the defendant that might raise or lower the number of years to be served.

The fact that the murders were premeditated and that Waterman had killed more than one person elevated the level of seriousness of his crimes to that which could result in life sentences, the high court wrote. Added to those factors, Waterman was a convicted felon who was prohibited from having a firearm.