April 12, 2012

Man accused of ax attack granted $3,500 bail

Brian Sweeney accused of coming at former roommate Jeremiah Gattis with ax

FARMINGTON -- Bail was set at $3,500 cash for a man who, along with a woman armed with a meat cleaver, is accused of attacking his former roommate with an ax last week.

Brian P. Sweeney, 31, and Shari L. Dupree are accused of attacking Jeremiah Gattis, 33, in his Poverty Lane mobile home around midnight April 3, police said. Gattis told police he fought off his attackers after Sweeney smashed a window and tried to break into the mobile home, according to a police affidavit.

Sweeney, who police said had lived with Gattis for almost two years, turned himself in Wednesday after learning about a warrant for his arrest, said Chris Dilworth, the attorney representing him.

In Farmington District Court on Wednesday, Sweeney, in a T-shirt, pants and handcuffs, told the judge he has lived in Rumford for the past 10 months and spent time living in Farmington before that.

Sweeney said he works seasonally for a painting contractor and has been unemployed since August, making money doing odd jobs. Sweeney added that he also has roommates who help him financially, calling himself a "jack-of-all-trades" working as a mechanic and fixing computers.

Sweeney confirmed he had pleaded guilty in December to operating under the influence and had no outstanding court matters. He had no other criminal record before turning himself in Wednesday morning, Dilworth added.

During the brief initial court appearance, Judge Nancy Carlson ordered that Sweeney be held in lieu of $3,500 cash bail, rejecting a request for a pre-trial release contract. His next court date is June 29, when attorneys will discuss the case's status.

Sweeney faces charges of burglary and aggravated assault, which are the same charges against Dupree, of Wilton, who was released Monday on $2,500 cash bail. Her next court date is June 29.

Gattis told police he recently had given Sweeney a free tattoo on the side of his neck, saying they were close friends and lived together for two years, the affidavit states.

In court Wednesday, Sweeney had tattoos of a skeleton joker and a skeleton king of hearts playing cards on opposite sides of his neck and rising above his collar. A diamond tattoo on the left side of his head was also visible, as his hair was closely shaven besides a spiked black strip on top.

On April 3, Sweeney showed up drunk at the mobile home and started shouting that Gattis had bungled the tattoo, the affidavit states, adding he left and sent text messages to Gattis indicating the argument was resolved.

About midnight that same day, Gattis told police he and his girlfriend awoke to a tapping on the window just before an ax shattered the glass, nearly hitting his girlfriend in the face, the affidavit states.

Gattis ran to the front door and found Sweeney, who had smashed the door's glass and was trying to get inside, the affidavit states.

Gattis yanked the door open and Sweeney swung the ax at him; then Gattis caught the ax handle in his hand, sending both men tumbling to the ground onto the broken glass, the affidavit states.

While they wrestled, Dupree attacked Gattis with a 12-inch meat cleaver, hacking at his head and hands until Gattis managed to grab the ax and cleaver and run away, the affidavit states, adding that the attackers chased him before giving up and fleeing in a car.

During the attack, Gattis' girlfriend called 911 and reported two people with weapons were "trying to kill her boyfriend" who was "covered in blood," the affidavit states.

Police arrived shortly thereafter, finding Gattis and his girlfriend bleeding from several wounds and a bloody meat cleaver inside the mobile home, the affidavit states.

David F. Robinson -- 861-9287

drobinson@centralmaine.com

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