AUGUSTA – The man accused of setting fire to the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro two years ago might act as co-counsel in his trial in December.

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy told Raymond Bellavance Jr., 50, at a pretrial hearing Thursday that he could represent himself or continue to use his attorney, Andrews Campbell.

Campbell said Bellavance would like to be co-counsel, and that Campbell will file a motion to that effect.

Bellavance, formerly of Winthrop, has been in jail for 16 months on two arson charges connected to the fire that destroyed the controversial coffee shop and forced six people to flee in the middle of the night.

Bellavance has said he is innocent and that the state pressured an informant to incriminate him. Campbell said he intends to subpoena that person.

Campbell called the conduct of investigators “outrageous and violated due process rights under the 14th Amendment. From the perspective of the defendant, it’s conspiracy and extortion.”

Bellavance also has claimed that the state has evidence that will clear him, and that it was not provided to the defense.

Campbell said this week that DNA found on a gas can that was used in setting the fire did not belong to Bellavance.

Murphy on Thursday set a deadline for the state to provide all of its evidence to the defense. She said a jury should decide on the credibility of witnesses.

Campbell said the defense will use its own arson expert to review the state Fire Marshal’s Office’s investigation of the fire.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley, said the state will get the information to Campbell by the deadline if the material has not already been provided.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]