Cold case breaker: Discarded cigarette

SKOWHEGAN ( AP) — A court document reveals that it was a discarded cigarette that led to the arrest of a Maine man in a 31-year-old murder case.

Jay Mercier was arrested in September and charged with murder in the July 1980 death of 20-year-old Rita St. Peter, whose beaten body was found along the side of a road in Anson.

According to an affidavit filed by state police detective Bryant Jacques, DNA recovered from the cigarette butt matched DNA from the victim’s body.

Jacques wrote in the affidavit that he was interviewing Mercier about the case last year when Mercier finished a cigarette and tossed it in the street. The detective later retrieved the butt and took it to a crime lab for analysis.

A judge has denied bail for Mercier.

Trucker will not be charged in fatal crash

FARMINGTON (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed against a Maine truck driver in connection with a crash that killed a 12-year-old Connecticut girl.

Franklin County prosecutor James Andrews told the Morning Sentinel his office reviewed the police investigation of the Aug. 17 crash in Farmington and determined there was not enough evidence to bring a vehicular manslaughter charge against Charles Willey.

Andrews says the probe concluded that Willey was driving his tractor- trailer about 11 miles per hour over the speed limit when he lost control of the rig and struck a YMCA minivan. But the prosecutor said there was no finding of criminal negligence as required by the law.

The crash killed Tess Meisel, of Westport, Conn. She was in the van owned by Camp Jewell YMCA in Colebrook, Conn., that was returning from Acadia National Park.

Thieves take propane tanks in Augusta

AUGUSTA (AP) — Police in Augusta are investigating the thefts of eight large propane tanks in the city.

Six of the stolen 100-gallon tanks had been filled within the past week.

Two of the tanks were taken from the Children’s Discovery Museum. At least two other businesses were also hit, leaving them without heat as temperatures in the region start to fall.

The president of Augusta Fuel Co. says he’s baffled by the thefts. Marc Lacasse told the Kennebec Journal the stolen equipment was worth thousands of dollars and he doesn’t have the “slightest idea” how or why the thieves pulled off the heist.

High court rejects ‘robo-signing’ sanctions

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s highest court has declined to find GMAC Mortgage in contempt for signing off on a home foreclosure without first verifying documents — a practice often referred to as “ robo- signing.”

In a 5-1 decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld a decision by a lower court last year. Judge Keith Powers stopped short in that ruling of finding GMAC in contempt, though he did find the company submitted the foreclosure affidavit on behalf of Fannie Mae in bad faith.

The case involved a Maine woman who was unable to make her monthly mortgage payments after losing her job.

GMAC’s parent company issued a statement saying it was pleased with Tuesday’s ruling.

The company remains the target of a separate classaction lawsuit brought on behalf of Maine homeowners.

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