July 26, 2013

Gwaro's wife: He was drunk night of Portland attack

Meanwhile, an investigator hired by the Scarborough man’s defense team says a prosecution witness has changed his story.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Eric Gwaro, 28, who is accused of elevated aggravated assault and attempted murder, looks to friends in the gallery while attorneys confer with the judge, in this Tuesday photo.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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“He said he observed no kicking,” Thornton said. “He told me he couldn’t identify the person, but a dark-skinned man was punching.”

On Tuesday, however, Hethcoat testified in court he saw a black man punch and stomp on the woman multiple times, specifically saying he saw the man stomping the woman’s chest and face.

Typically in trials, the defense calls its witnesses only after the prosecution rests, but Thornton testified early due to a scheduling conflict.

Gwaro’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, has challenged Hethcoat’s testimony and that of another witness, Megan Townsend, who lived in the same Montgomery Street apartment at the time of the attack. Townsend said Wednesday that she saw the victim being kicked and punched.

Lilley had confronted Hethcoat while Hethcoat was testifying Tuesday, asking him, “You didn’t see anything, did you, sir?”

Hethcoat said on the witness stand that he “held back” when he spoke to Thornton, the private investigator, on Dec. 4, 2012.

Thornton testified that he tried to interview Townsend and her husband, Ryan Townsend, but they refused to speak with him.

“Both refused to talk to me, saying they didn’t want to help the guy I was representing,” Thornton said. “They told me they wanted to see him go away for a long time.”

Jurors were also shown a video Wednesday and Thursday that showed police interviewing Gwaro after his arrest.

In the video, Gwaro tells Portland Police Detective Scott Dunham that he wasn’t the attacker and that he was chasing the real suspect in hopes of catching the man himself.

“I was trying to be a hero,” Gwaro said, describing the man he was chasing as a black man like him, wearing identical clothing.

Lilley acknowledged to Justice Joyce Wheeler on Wednesday, while the jury was out of the courtroom, that his client was lying to police in the video.

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