AUGUSTA — Attorneys for Gary Raub, charged in the 1976 stabbing death of Blanche M. Kimball in her Augusta home, argued Tuesday that an alternative suspect theory should be presented to a jury.

Raub was indicted in October 2012 on a charge of criminal homicide in the first degree, the equivalent to today’s murder charge. At the time, he was homeless and living on the streets in the university district of Seattle, Washington.

The indictment followed an undercover sting in which detectives got Raub’s DNA by paying him $5 to participate in what they told him was a chewing gum survey.

He was later extradited to Maine to face the charge in connection with the 1976 murder.

On Tuesday, his attorneys called two Augusta men as witnesses in Kennebec County Superior Court to support their alternative suspect theory.

Paul Bonsant, 57, described finding a knife buried at the base of a monument on Memorial Circle in Augusta in 1982 while he was planting gardens there for the city of Augusta. Bonsant testified that he kept the knife for more than 30 years, discarding it along with many other possessions because it wouldn’t fit into his backpack when he was moving in July 2012.

He said he did not connect it with the unsolved murder from years earlier.

“If I had any idea, I would have gone to police,” Bonsant said.

Defense attorney Sherry Tash told Justice Roland Cole that Bonsant was their alternative suspect, saying that he had a knife, that he got rid of it suddenly and that he told at least one person it had been used to kill someone and that he had connected it to the unsolved murder.

“Why would that surface in his mind unless he had some sort of guilty conscience?” Tash asked the judge.

The judge agreed to listen to a recording of police interviewing Thomas Caret, also of Augusta, who told his probation officer in 2011 that he heard a conversation between Paul Bonsant and his brother Philip Bonsant about a knife that might have been used to kill someone.

On Tuesday, Caret testified, “I’ve never definitely said that this was the weapon. I may have misconstrued it. It may have been used in wartime and I’m thinking it may have been used in this lady’s death.”

Bonsant let out a brief chuckle and said no after Tash asked him if he killed Kimball.

While Cole did not rule on the alternative suspect issue, he told Tash the connection between Bonsant mowing Kimball’s lawn a couple of times is not enough of a link to suspect him of murder and that it was likely someone would bury what was believed to be a military knife at the base of a monument.

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani disagreed with the defense position on the alternative suspect.

“There is not one scintilla of evidence that Paul Bonsant murdered Blanche Kimball,” Nomani told Cole. “There are no witnesses, no evidence, no motive, no opportunity shown.”

Cole indicated jury selection in the case was set for Aug. 22 with the trial to follow on Aug. 25.

The charge against Raub says he “knowingly inflicted great physical suffering” while intending to kill Kimball, a 70-year-old retired dental technician and practical nurse who occasionally took in boarders at her home. Raub, then known as Gary Wilson, had lived in her home for a short time. He was questioned by police after Kimball’s body was discovered in early June 1976, but denied any involvement.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge on Feb. 1, 2013.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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Twitter: @betadams