August 31, 2013

Maine egg farm shooting to go to grand jury

Michael Warbin, 44, was shooting at rodents and stray chickens when he shot and killed a farm employee.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Maine Attorney General's Office plans to present the case of the fatal shooting of an egg farm worker to an Androscoggin County grand jury, but not until October.

click image to enlarge

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

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

State police investigators and Deputy Attorney General William Stokes met with officials from Moark Egg Farm at its Turner location Tuesday, August 20, 2013, after a man was accidentally shot and killed by a contractor who was shooting rodents and stray chickens.

Gabe Souza

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Friday that any charges against Michael Warbin, 44, of Franklin, Conn., will likely come from the grand jury, rather than state police.

Warbin, a contractor, was shooting at rodents and stray chickens in one of Moark Egg Farms' huge buildings in Turner on Aug. 19 when a bullet from his .22-caliber rifle killed Manuel Adame, 57, police say.

Adame died from a gunshot that wounded him in the chest and neck, police said.

The state is still doing ballistic testing on the .22-caliber rifle that authorities believe was used in the shooting, Stokes said Friday.

The egg house where Warbin was working is 500 feet long and poorly lit. Police are trying to determine whether a bullet ricocheted off the floor, the metal structure or a machine before hitting Adame.

The grand jury is likely to consider whether criminal negligence played a role in the shooting death.

It's common to clear a henhouse before accepting a new flock, but it's not clear whether that typically involves using a rifle, authorities have said. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration also is investigating.

The grand jury will meet next week but Stokes said the state is no hurry to seek an indictment.

"It's not murder. It's an unintentional killing," Stokes said, but it is important to the victim's family that prosecutors present a thorough case to the grand jury.

Stokes said prosecutors present some cases to grand juries seeking particular charges, arguing that the facts support them.

In other cases, information is presented and a grand jury is asked whether the state should continue the case.

Stokes would not discuss the state's plan in Warbin's case.

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

The family has retained a lawyer, he said.

Regardless of the results of the criminal process, the family may pursue a civil claim against the egg farm, which is owned by the Land O' Lakes dairy conglomerate. 

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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