September 9, 2010

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Joseph P. Green and his court-appointed lawyer, Jon Gale, participate in court proceedings Wednesday. Gale told the judge that he needs to see more police reports and recorded interviews with his client before he could request a bail hearing.

Windham murder suspect describes
shooting amid pot plants

By Trevor Maxwell
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Joseph P. Green told detectives that he saw silhouettes among the marijuana plants growing on his property last week and fired two shots into the dark with a handgun, but found nothing when he searched the area.

He says it wasn't until several hours later that he discovered the body of 40-year-old David Harmon on his land in Windham.

"He considered calling the police and making up a story, telling them he just found the guy there, but decided not to," Maine State Police Detective Scott Harakles wrote in an affidavit in support of Green's arrest this week.

Instead, Harakles wrote, Green loaded Harmon's body onto a cover for a Polaris all-terrain vehicle and dragged it to the other side of some power lines, away from Green's home at 38 Roosevelt Trail.

According to Harakles, Green told him the shooting happened just one day after he had shot at people who were trying to steal his marijuana plants. He took detectives to a spot off Highland Cliff Road where he had hidden the gun.

Green, 44, is charged with murder in the shooting of Harmon on Aug. 31. He made his first appearance in Cumberland County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Green was not asked to enter a plea during his brief appearance before Justice Roland Cole. He was ordered to be held without bail. Green's court-appointed lawyer, Jon Gale, told the judge that he has seen only the single police affidavit and he needs much more information before requesting a bail hearing.

"It is too early to discuss potential defenses," Gale said after Green's court appearance. "I really would like to see the police reports and recordings. There are recordings of conversations with my client that are going to be pretty important."

Gale said he spent about 45 minutes talking with Green at the Cumberland County Jail on Wednesday morning, and he spoke at length with Green's mother and a cousin.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said the investigation has shown that Green and Harmon knew each other, and that Harmon did walk onto Green's land on the morning of Aug. 31 to steal marijuana.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who represented the state Wednesday, declined to comment on the case.

According to the affidavit prepared by Harakles, a Maine Warden Service dog made a discovery that led investigators to Green. On the morning of Sept. 1, the dog alerted one of the wardens to a leaf with red-brown stains on an ATV trail near the spot where Harmon's body had been found.

Warden Jeremy Judd and state police Detective Ethel Ross followed the tracks and met up with Green, who took them to his mobile home and showed them marijuana plants in his van and growing on the property.

"Green told Detective Ross that he grows marijuana for his own personal use and not for the purpose of selling it," the affidavit said. "Green also pointed out several full-grown plants in his backyard and bragged about the size of his plants and his natural green thumb."

Green agreed to be interviewed by Harakles that afternoon at the Windham police station.

Green has an extensive criminal record, including a conviction for cultivating marijuana in 2000, for which he received a 36-hour jail sentence.

He also was involved in a high-profile police chase in Windham in March 1992. Windham officer Greg Doyon pulled Green over because the van he was driving was traveling erratically. According to Portland Press Herald reports of the incident, Green took sobriety tests at Doyon's request, then got back into the van and sped away.

Doyon called for backup and chased Green on Route 302 at speeds up to 84 mph. Officer Peter Fulton positioned his cruiser in the road with his lights flashing. Green crashed into the cruiser, and Fulton escaped injury by diving over an embankment.

Green's blood-alcohol content was 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving, served a 30-day sentence and paid a fine. The controversy erupted when Green subsequently sued the Windham Police Department.

Green, who was seriously injured in the crash, claimed that the use of the cruiser as a roadblock amounted to excessive force. Under federal law, a roadblock with no escape route is considered "deadly force" and can be found to be unconstitutional.

After a civil trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, a jury decided that the roadblock was indeed a "full roadblock" and ruled in favor of Green. Before the jury had a chance to debate financial damages, Green and Windham's insurer agreed to a $75,000 settlement.

The verdict and settlement prompted angry letters to the editors of newspapers and dominated talk radio shows, according to Press Herald reports. Motivated by that case and by a drunken-driving crash that killed a 41-year-old mother of two, residents of Windham organized a "Roadblock Race and Walk" in 1994 to raise money for victims.

State records show Green's criminal history dates back to at least 1985, when he was 19 years old. His convictions include misdemeanor crimes of disorderly conduct, attempted theft, criminal mischief, assault and criminal threatening.

In 1997, he was convicted of criminal threatening, assault and a felony count of aggravated criminal mischief for an incident that followed a dispute with his girlfriend.

Police said Green was driving a Chevrolet Beretta and chasing his girlfriend's Cadillac Seville around 2 a.m. on Oct. 4, 1996. When he caught up to her, police said, Green rammed his car repeatedly into the woman's car.

Green was sentenced to 30 days in jail, one year of probation and a $4,000 fine.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Joseph P. Green of Windham makes his initial appearance Wednesday in Cumberland County Superior Court. He is charged with murdering David Harmon, also of Windham, on Aug. 31.

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