September 13, 2013

Stalking suspect heavily armed, Maine witnesses testify

Police pulled over the car Benjamin Lee was driving after it had passed by the home where his wife lived.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Timothy Mann went back in the house after he saw the white Cadillac go by and told everyone to get upstairs. He grabbed his shotgun, adding to the 9mm pistol he was already carrying, and watched from the kitchen windows for the Cadillac to return.

"I was sweating, shaking. I mean how many people have to stand in their kitchen with a shotgun to defend their family. And that's what I thought it was going to come down to," Mann said Thursday, recalling the events of Sept. 7, 2012.

Mann testified in U.S. District Court in Portland during the third day of the trial of Benjamin Lee, who is accused of driving cross country from Missouri to Maine to track down his estranged wife and Mann, her new boyfriend, with the Cadillac full of weapons after threatening to kill them.

Lee, 52, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of interstate stalking, for allegedly crossing state lines with the intention to kill, injure, harass or intimidate his wife, Tawny Lee, and Mann or to conduct surveillance with intention to kill, injure, harass or intimidate them.

A computerized map was projected on a screen for the jury while Mann testified about watching the white Cadillac pass in front of his home in Limerick possibly a dozen times before it stopped in the lot across the street.

Mann said he yelled updates to Tawny Lee, who had called 911 and was upstairs talking to police.

The Cadillac went away about a minute before police arrived, but another officer testified that he saw the car headed south on nearby Route 5 and pulled it over.

That officer, Maine State Police Sgt. Jonathan Shapiro, testified Thursday that he identified Lee as the driver and that he had five guns in the car, three loaded and two unloaded. Driving with a loaded gun is against the law in Maine, so Lee was placed under arrest, Shapiro said.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee, played a video recording of Shapiro's encounter with Lee, taken by another state trooper who arrived to assist.

"I just went by the house where they are at. We're getting a divorce. I want to talk to her if she'll talk to me," Lee said in the recording. "I've done nothing wrong."

Lee's attorney, James Clifford, said Lee is still undecided about whether he will take the stand in his own defense Friday.

The lead investigator in the case, Special Agent Patrick Clancy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified as the government's final witness, identifying all the items police and FBI agents seized from the Cadillac, which Lee borrowed from his brother in Missouri.

Clancy said Lee had a loaded Ruger revolver, a loaded shotgun and two unloaded rifles in the passenger compartment of the car and another loaded Smith & Wesson revolver in the trunk.

Clancy then identified each of the other items as McElwee handed them to him one by one: Camouflage face paint, handcuffs, two rolls of duct tape, a coil of rope, more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a folding knife, a machete, a bayonet, a roll of black plastic sheeting, a box of plastic kitchen bags, two bags of latex gloves, a cooler, a camera with pictures of Mann and Tawny Lee's home and receipts documenting his travel from Missouri to Maine.

Judge D. Brock Hornby said he expects the defense to call its final witnesses Friday with closing arguments by Monday.

Lee has been in custody since his arrest. He faces up to five years in federal prison on each charge.

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

sdolan@mainetoday.com

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