PORTLAND — Ernest Weidul was sentenced today to 16 years in prison on a charge of manslaughter in the 2010 death of Roger Downs Jr.
Judge Joyce Wheeler of Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court also sentenced Weidul to four years’ probation.
The two men met on May 5, 2010, after Weidul scraped his pickup truck on a guardrail by Downs’ building on Forest Avenue. They drank large amounts of coffee brandy and got into a fight. After Downs woke up with injuries including broken facial bones, a lacerated lip and bruised eyes, he called for an ambulance.
Downs was unable to open his eyes when he woke on May 6, and fell asleep again. He woke up again and called for an ambulance to take him to Mercy Hospital. He had broken facial bones, his eyes were bruised and swollen shut, and he had a cut lip.
He could not recall what had happened, but he knew he had been drinking with “Brian” the previous night.
Downs, who was 46, went into severe respiratory distress at the hospital. The doctor was unable to insert a breathing tube because of swelling in Downs’ neck. The doctor performed a tracheotomy, but it was too late.
During the trial in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court, the defense argued that Weidul was acting in self-defense and that Downs continued to swing at him. The prosecution noted that Weidul had told others he had punched Downs 30 or more times and that Downs had managed to land only one blow.
Weidul has indicated that he will appeal both the conviction and sentence.
This is a developing story. Please check back soon for more details.