July 25, 2013

Witness says Gwaro brutally beat, kicked woman

The defendant denies the attack escalated to the level of attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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During opening statements, defense attorney Daniel Lilley tries to convince the jury that his client is guilty of aggravated assault, but not elevated aggravated assault or attempted murder.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Eric Gwaro, 28, is charged with attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Megan Townsend said everyone in her household was reluctant to speak to police because they didn't want to be "called a rat."

In a testy exchange with Lilley, Megan Townsend said that in her neighborhood, "rats" are looked down upon and that "bodies disappear" when someone rats on another person.

Another witness, taxi cab driver Able Britton, said he was driving in the area of the Big Apple store on Washington Avenue around 3 a.m. and saw a man carrying a woman when he turned onto Cumberland Avenue.

"She was screaming," said Britton, who works for ASAP Taxi. "It was definitely not a good thing. I actually called the police."

Britton said the man was yelling at the woman as he carried her, "I want my money. Give me my money."

Another cab driver, Brock Mantle, also testified on Wednesday that he had seen York earlier that night trying to flag down his cab, but he already had a fare. He said he learned what happened after returning to the Big Apple store after the attack.

Mantle said he knew from previous exchanges with York that she "sometimes worked as a prostitute" and that she had offered sex and drugs for rides in the past.

Jurors on Wednesday also heard from Charles Bunting, a Portland man who testified that he had met Gwaro in a bar earlier that night, they exchanged phone numbers and began bar hopping in the city's Old Port before separating at the end of the night.

"He was on the rocks with his wife, out on the town," Bunting said.

Bunting said he first went to the nightclub Styxx on Spring Street for a beer around 11 p.m. on Aug. 29 and met Gwaro. The two struck up a conversation.

"At one point, I did let him know that he was in an alternative bar," Bunting said. "He mentioned that he was primarily interested in women."

Bunting said Gwaro appeared to be in a good mood throughout the night. The two then went together for another beer at Asylum, a nightclub on Center Street, and continued on until last call at sports bar Binga's Stadium on Free Street.

"He came up the stairs having been downstairs for half an hour or so," Bunting said. "I saw him go to just about every woman in the crowd and say something."

Bunting said he then went home but continued to text Gwaro, receiving a final text message from him around 2 a.m.

Testimony concluded Wednesday with Portland police Detective Scott Dunham on the stand as jurors began watching a recorded video interview of Gwaro at police headquarters after his arrest. Dunham is expected to continue testimony Thursday as jurors are shown the rest of the two-hour video.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Megan Elam, said she expects to call her final witnesses Thursday. Elam had listed York on a preliminary witness list, but has not yet called her to the stand.

Gwaro's attorneys, Lilley and Tina Nadeau, listed six witness they plan to call, including Gwaro.

Justice Joyce Wheeler is presiding over the trial.

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

sdolan@presherald.com

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