June 19, 2012

Weidul sentenced to 16 years for manslaughter

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Ernest Weidul was sentenced today to 16 years in prison on a charge of manslaughter in the 2010 death of Roger Downs Jr.

click image to enlarge

Ernest Weidul listens to the judge as she sentences him to 16 years in prison plus additional concurrent sentences on related charges for manslaughter.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Carly Downs, daughter of victim Roger Downs Jr., tearfully tells the court of her loss of her father during the sentencing of Ernest Weidul today for manslaughter in Roger Downs' death.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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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.





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Additional Photos

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A family photo of Roger Downs Jr., 46, of Portland died on May 7, 2010, two days after an encounter with Ernest Weidul.

John Ewing


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