October 31, 2013

Suspect in Maine egg farm shooting pleads not guilty

Michael Warbin was shooting at rodents and stray chickens at a Turner farm when he shot and killed a farm worker.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUBURN — A Connecticut man accused of manslaughter in the shooting death of a Turner egg farm worker pleaded not guilty Thursday during his first court appearance to face the charge.

click image to enlarge

Michael Warbin, right, with his attorney Jonathan Berry, pleads not guilty during his arraignment in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson is at left.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A truck passes a large barn at Moark Egg Farm in Turner Tuesday, August 20, 2013, a day after a man was accidentally shot and killed by a co-worker who was shooting rodents and stray chickens.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Michael Warbin, 44, of Franklin, Conn., arrived in Androscoggin County Superior Court to face a single-count indictment in the Aug. 19 death of Manuel Adame.

Warbin, a contractor, was shooting at rodents and stray chickens as he cleared one of Moark Egg Farms’ huge buildings in Turner using a .22-caliber rifle, police said. Adame, 57, of Turner, was hit and died from gunshots to the chest and neck, police said.

Warbin appeared in an olive-colored jacket and tie with his attorney for the brief proceeding, and replied only “not guilty” when he was read the charge against him by Justice MaryGay Kennedy.

Warbin remains free on his own recognizance while the case is pending.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson, who was standing in for the Attorney General’s Office, which will ultimately prosecute the case, did not ask the judge to impose bail. Instead, he asked for a $20,000 unsecured bond that, if Warbin should fail to appear to face the manslaughter charge, would require him to pay that amount to be released again. As a condition, the judge also ordered Warbin not to possess any dangerous weapons.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes has said previously that his office did not consider the cause of Adame’s death to be murder, but rather an “unintentional killing.” He said a person is guilty of manslaughter if the person “with reckless criminal negligence causes the death of another human being.”

Warbin’s attorney, Jonathan Berry of Portland, said he had received volumes of evidence in the case, but asked the judge for a 60-day extension before setting deadlines to allow him time to receive the remaining evidence.

“We’re far too early in the case to speak of the quality of the evidence,” Berry said outside the courtroom afterward. “There are more questions than answers at this point. We continue to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office to reach a fair and just resolution.”

The egg house where Warbin was working is 500 feet long and poorly lit. Police said they believe Warbin was at one end, firing into the building, and Adame was at the other end. Warbin was using a Smith & Wesson Model MP15-22 rifle equipped with a telescopic lens, according to the indictment against him.

Adame worked for the egg farm for almost 10 years, sending money home to his wife and daughter in Durango, Mexico, Stokes said.

The egg farm is owned by the Land O’ Lakes dairy conglomerate.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan

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