August 5, 2013

Affidavit: Maine man used identity of homicide victim

Police say William Morse had 61-year-old Richard Bellitieri's driver's license, credit cards and Social Security card when they arrested Morse on a drunken-driving charge in July.

The Associated Press

TRENTON — A Maine man charged with murder withdrew money from the victim's bank account, drove his car and even posed as the victim after the killing, which occurred between June and October of last year, according to court documents released Friday. The defense said it'll be difficult to prove what happened so long ago.

click image to enlarge

This photo released by Maine State Police shows 61-year-old Richard Bellitieri, whose body was recently found more than a year after he was last seen.

The Associated Press

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William Morse, 43, of Trenton, came to authorities' attention in July after Bar Harbor police discovered during an investigation into a high-speed chase that Morse had a driver's license, credit cards and Social Security card belonging to Richard Bellitieri, who was last seen in June 2012 but had never been reported missing.

Bellitieri's remains were found Sunday near property he owns in Trenton. An autopsy determined he'd been shot four times, including twice in the head, before his body was covered with potting soil and a large tree that had toppled over.

Defense lawyer Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth questioned Friday whether law enforcement can prove when Bellitieri was shot, where he was shot or who shot him.

"They can level charges but how are they going to answer those questions?" he said. "(Morse) probably did all those other things but that doesn't mean he shot him."

Morse, who made his initial court appearance Friday, was being held without bail at the Hancock County Jail. He did not enter a plea to the murder charge but pleaded not guilty to several unrelated misdemeanors.

After Bellitieri's death, Morse sometimes drove around in Bellitieri's blue Audi, withdrew money from his bank account and even presented himself as Bellitieri to a bicycle shop worker who was renting a Mount Desert home owned by Bellitieri, according to the affidavit signed by state police detective Thomas Pickering.

After posting bail for a drunken-driving arrest in July, Morse took a taxi to a home in Trenton owned by Bellitieri and where his remains were found, Pickering wrote. A man later identifying himself as Bellitieri called a police dispatcher with instructions about where to tow the car.

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