ALFRED – A homeless man from Portland accused of raping and beating a woman and leaving her nearly lifeless body in the bathtub of a Saco motel room made his initial court appearance Monday on charges of murder and gross sexual assault.
Lebon Bruno, 39, was arrested in Lewiston on Saturday, two weeks after the housekeeping staff at the Sunrise Motel found Elizabeth Williams, 55, of Portland, unconscious, bloodied and bruised.
Williams died a day later at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Bruno was led into York County Superior Court on Monday flanked by his defense attorneys, wearing an orange top and mustard-colored pants. He said nothing as Justice Paul Fritzsche explained the case against him.
Bruno will face 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted of murder. He faces as much as 10 years in prison on the charge of gross sexual assault.
Bruno was not required to enter a plea Monday. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese and his lawyers agreed to delay bail arguments, and Bruno was ordered held in custody pending his next scheduled court appearance, on Feb. 15.
According to an affidavit seeking a warrant for his arrest, Bruno returned to the motel while police were there investigating the attack on Williams. Witnesses said Bruno was carrying a 12-pack of beer when he arrived.
While Bruno was at the police station, Maine State Police Detective Ethel Ross noticed “red-brown stains on the shoelaces of his shoes,” she said in her affidavit. Police documented more “red-brown staining” on Bruno’s body under his clothes, as well as scratches and abrasions.
The Maine State Crime Laboratory confirmed that the stains on Bruno’s shoes were from Williams’ blood. DNA samples taken from Bruno’s body contained a mix of DNA matching her blood and his, Ross said in her affidavit.
The affidavit describes Williams’ injuries in detail, including internal injuries, eye and neck bruising, broken teeth, a broken nose and “a non-survivable brain injury.”
Bruno made various claims about Williams’ attacker, at one point telling police that Williams had been attacked by Somalis and that he had been attacked as well. He also claimed that Williams was attacked by an Indian. Later, he tried to blame the motel manager.
Marchese, who is prosecuting the case, spoke briefly to the media outside the courthouse.
“He was clearly a suspect from the start,” she said. “Then the DNA results came back.”
Marchese characterized the case against Bruno as domestic violence, but Bruno’s lead attorney, Clifford Strike, said the two were not in a relationship.
Strike said they met while they were homeless, and had known each other for about five years. They frequented the Preble Street Resource Center’s Adult Shelter in Portland, state police have said.
Strike said Bruno is college-educated, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived on disability support. He would not say how Bruno is disabled.
Although Bruno was born in this country, his family is of Haitian descent, Strike said.
“He understands the nature of what’s going on here,” Strike said. “He’s had two weeks to make scarce and has made no effort to do so.”
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: