November 17, 2012

Local & State Dispatches

PORTLAND

Webster's voting claims remain in ACLU's sights

The ACLU of Maine said Friday that it plans to alert the U.S. Justice Department about this week's controversial statements by Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster. But the issue may be moot.

Webster experienced a backlash -- from Democrats and Republicans -- after he said unknown black people showed up to vote in some rural areas on Nov. 6 and he suspected they might not be legal residents.

He has maintained that Maine elections are vulnerable to fraud.

Webster initially said he planned to mail postcards to newly registered voters in some rural towns to see how many were returned as undeliverable, indicating that voters may not live at the addresses on the registration cards.

He stuck to that plan in some interviews Thursday, saying he would personally pay for the mailings. However, he issued an apology later Thursday and said he was dropping his plan to send the postcards.

The ACLU of Maine said Friday that it is still concerned about Webster's plan, because of his mixed messages Thursday. The group said it would amount to "voter caging," an illegal practice that intimidates and harasses new voters.

"Voter intimidation, by a political party or a private individual, is illegal," said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. "Using postcards or the mail in an attempt to trap or eliminate voters is harassment and a violation of federal law."

Danforth Street stabbing lands Portland man in jail

Police have charged a Portland man with elevated aggravated assault after he allegedly stabbed another man in the neck on Danforth Street early Thursday morning.

Police arrested Michael F. Brown, 24, of North Street on Thursday and charged him with attacking Patrick Delong, 33, of Portland at 2 a.m. near 200 Danforth St.

Delong was with a group of people, which included Brown's ex-girlfriend, police said. Brown had followed the group, which went into Ruski's, a neighborhood bar, and Delong stayed outside to talk to Brown.

The attack followed that interaction, police said.

Delong remains in stable condition at Maine Medical Center.

Brown is being held without bail at the Cumberland County Jail.

AUGUSTA

Democrats' wins upheld in trio of House recounts

Maine election officials say recounts are completed on three more legislative races with no changes in outcome.

Secretary of State Charlie Summers said Friday that Democrat Wayne Werts remained the winner in House District 70, which includes Auburn and Lewiston; Democrat William Noon of Sanford remained the winner in House District 144, which includes Acton, Lebanon and Sanford; and Democrat Anne Graham of North Yarmouth remained the winner in House District 109, which includes Gray, North Yarmouth and Pownal.

The latest recounts bring the total completed to six, with seven legislative recounts pending.

The process should be completed after Thanksgiving.

Man on probation gets five years in drug robbery

A Maine man has been sentenced to three years behind bars for robbing a pharmacy in Pittsfield while he was on probation for a prior burglary conviction.

Michael Klaiber was also sentenced to serve more than two additional years in jail for violating the terms of his probation, as well as three years of probation at sentencing this week.

Prosecutors say Klaiber, 30, wearing sunglasses, a baseball hat covered by a hooded sweat shirt, sweat pants and gloves, went into the Rite Aid in May and demanded drugs.

A store clerk put a GPS device in the bag with some pills, which allowed police to track Klaiber and catch him.

His lawyer says he got away with five pills and apologized in court.

AUBURN

Jury quickly convicts man accused in swamp murder

A jury took little more than an hour to convict a man who was accused of beating and drowning a woman, then dumping her body in a swampy area.

The jury returned the guilty verdict in the murder trial of Buddy Robinson of Lewiston. He and the victim, Christina Fesmire, 22, lived in different units of the same building when she disappeared in July 2011.

Her body was never found.

The Sun Journal of Lewiston says the jury deliberated about an hour and 20 minutes on Friday.

Court documents portrayed the victim as part of an online prostitution ring led by Robinson's sister. The defense pointed to Robinson's sister as an alternative suspect.

SCARBOROUGH

Dog sniffs out a suspect in burglary at stereo store

Police arrested a man on burglary charges, saying he was caught in the act when a car stereo store employee showed up for work at 7:44 a.m. Friday.

A worker spotted a broken window on the front door and a man still inside Xtreme Audio at 695 Route 1. The man ran, but police used a dog to track and eventually arrest Kaysean Dayrean Moss, 38, of Veranda Street in Portland.

Moss was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief. Police said he had taken stereo components that were found nearby.

VEAZIE

Former schoolmate cited for 'disgusting' bullying

A 15-year-old Orono High School student who police say is the victim of one of the most vicious cases of bullying they have ever seen is speaking out.

Alexis Henkel told the Bangor Daily News that the online harassment started in September. She says she received at least 27 death threats and was called all sorts of names.

She took a leave from school and her family even left their home on some occasions.

Veazie police Sgt. Keith Emery says the harassment was the most "violent, disgusting and vulgar" he's seen in 24 years as an officer.

A 16-year-old girl who used to attend Orono High and now goes to another school has been charged with felony terrorizing and harassment by electronic communication.

Police say she thought Alexis was flirting with her boyfriend.

ELLSWORTH

Forgotten Felines group loses $1,000 to thief

A Maine group that takes care of stray and abandoned cats says somebody stole $1,000 it had raised in donations.

Forgotten Felines of Maine in Ellsworth says the money was raised last weekend at a craft fair in Brewer.

The executive director told WABI-TV that somebody took the money out of a truck before it could be deposited into the organization's account.

Forgotten Felines says it's helped nearly 400 cats this year.

WARREN

Inmates, horses benefit from animal therapy

Inmates and officials at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren say a program that allows prisoners to take care of abandoned horses at a nearby farm works wonders for men and animals alike.

The animal therapy program is a joint venture between the prisons department and the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Bolduc director Benjamin Beal told WABI-TV the program teaches responsibility to the men, and changes their attitude about life and about work.

Two inmates are currently involved but the program could include as many as four.

An inmate named Chris said the program gives him something to do and keeps him out of trouble. He says he'd like to work with animals when he's released.

-- From staff and news services

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