Convicted murderer seeking new trial or high court review

A Sabattus man serving a 55-year prison sentence for killing his ex-girlfriend has asked a judge to either grant him a new trial or send his case back to the state’s highest court for a second look.

Lawyers for Daniel Roberts, 42, said during a post-conviction review hearing Thursday that his constitutional rights were violated because members of the public were kept out of the courtroom during testimonial portions of the trial and during the verdict reading.

The Sun Journal reported that his lawyers also questioned whether his constitutional rights were violated by having ineffective counsel at trial.

The judge did not immediately rule.

Roberts was convicted of fatally shooting Melissa Mendoza, 29, in August 2005. They were involved in a custody dispute over their 2-year-old daughter at the time.


State marijuana dispensary operator changes its name

Northeast Patients Group, which has opened one marijuana dispensary in Thomaston and plans to open three more in the state, has changed its name to Wellness Connection of Maine.

The new name better reflects a Maine-based, nonprofit organization that offers an array of services for chronically and severely ill patients, according to today’s news release.

“Our plan is to offer patients a variety of services and educational opportunities to enhance their total health and well-being,” said Executive Director Rebecca DeKeuster.

Additional offerings may include yoga classes, massage therapy and acupuncture treatments, she said.

The company plans to open additional dispensaries in Portland, Hallowell and Brewer.

In Portland, the company plans to operate a dispensary at 685 Congress St. It applied Nov. 30 for necessary building and fire code permits, according to city officials.

The property, near Longfellow Square, had to be converted into a secure facility, including video cameras and steel doors, to comply with state regulations for dispensaries.


Man convicted on 13 counts in multivehicle I-95 pileup

A South Portland man who police say caused a multivehicle pileup on the Maine Turnpike last year has been convicted on 13 violations.

Timothy Williams was convicted Thursday in connection with a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph.

Williams, 40, was convicted of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon; reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon; eluding a police officer; felony operating under the influence; criminal speeding; driving to endanger; and driving after license suspension.

Police say he was speeding and changing lanes erratically in November 2010 when he sideswiped a van and rear-ended another vehicle, sending it spinning into the guardrail. There were only minor injuries.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced in January.


Police: Two men arrested while burglarizing home

Two men were arrested Thursday when police interrupted them in the process of burglarizing a home on Maple Avenue.

A neighbor called police around 2:30 p.m. to report that a door to the home was open when the owner wasn’t home, Deputy Police Chief Keith Babin said in a news release.

When police arrived, they saw two men inside, rummaging through bags, Babin said. When the officers announced their presence, both men tried to flee but were apprehended.

Corydon Mills, 23, of Old Orchard Beach, and David Berard, 22, of Saco, were charged with burglary, Babin said.

Mills also had an outstanding warrant from Cumberland County charging him with unpaid fines. Berard had two Cumberland County warrants — one for burglary and one for theft.

Mills posted $860 bail and was released. Berard is on probation and was taken to the York County Jail.


Veterans, backers angered by theft of two wreaths

Police are investigating the theft of two wreaths from a veteran’s monument that has outraged veterans and their supporters.

Six wreaths were placed on the monument Saturday by Wreaths Across America volunteers. They had a red ribbon on top and a U.S. flag on bottom, adjacent to a flag representing the five service branches and the Merchant Marine service.

Navy veteran Al Godfrey discovered two of them missing Tuesday when he went to work on the monument.

He alerted police, but so far there have been no arrests.

Godfrey told the Kennebec Journal that the thief or thieves are cowards.


King raises $240,000 to fund home heating aid for Mainers

Horror author Stephen King’s efforts to raise money to help low-income Maine residents pay their heating-oil bills this winter have exceeded goals.

King announced last month that his foundation would match up to $70,000 if listeners of the three Bangor-area radio stations he owns donated that amount, for a total of $140,000.

Listeners donated $24,000, the Lerner Foundation pitched in $46,000 and the foundation kept its promise.

On-air personality Pat LaMarche said that an anonymous Californian then promised another $50,000, if King matched it. The Maine native agreed, bringing the total to more than $240,000.

King told the Bangor Daily News he’s “grateful” to everybody who helped.

The federal government told the state it should expect $23 million in heating-oil assistance this winter, down from $55.6 million last winter.

L.L. Bean the dog adopted by employee of L.L. Bean

A homeless dog in Wisconsin named L.L. Bean has found a new home in Maine, thanks to the company he’s named after.

The Dunn County Humane Society in Menomonie, Wis., received a call from an employee at L.L. Bean’s Freeport headquarters after a local TV station ran a story featuring an 80-pound coonhound named L.L. Bean that had been in the shelter for more than a year.

The story of L.L. Bean the dog was shared on L.L. Bean’s company intranet site, and a customer service representative was chosen to be the dog’s new owner.

After L.L. Bean employees later learned that transportation fees for the dog would be more than $800, they collected money to cover the cost.

L.L. Bean is expected to arrive in Maine in early January.


Teenager to serve six years for death of infant daughter

A northern Maine teenager has been sentenced to six years in prison for the death of his 3-month-old daughter.

But Nicklas Jones, 19, of Limestone remains free on bail while he decides whether to appeal court rulings made before his sentencing.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson told the Bangor Daily News on Friday that Jones entered a conditional guilty plea Dec. 8 in the 2009 death of his daughter, Joselyn Jones, and was sentenced to six years.

Prosecutors said Jones, then 17, threw the baby at her crib because he was frustrated by her crying, but that the baby missed the crib, hit her head and died a few days later of head injuries.


Ex-teacher serves five days for sexually touching student

A former high school teacher who was charged with unlawful sexual touching of a student is out of jail after serving a five-day sentence.

According to records provided by Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou, Alan J. Brown, 55, was found guilty in October and sentenced to five days in jail and fined $500.

The conviction for the misdemeanor charge will not require him to register as a sex offender.

Brown, who taught geography, civics, psychology and history at Central Aroostook High School, was charged by state police with unlawful sexual touching last September. He is no longer a teacher at the school.

Prosecutors told the Bangor Daily News the victim was a student and the touching occurred on or about Sept. 7, 2010.


New England lawmakers urge assessment of cod stock

New England lawmakers are asking the U.S. commerce secretary for an emergency assessment of the abundance of cod in the Gulf of Maine.

Friday’s letter to John Bryson echoes a request earlier this week by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

The six lawmakers are also asking Bryson to freeze the cod catch limit at its current level until the study is complete.

Fishermen are facing devastating cuts in the cod catch next year after new data indicated stocks were being severely overfished. That’s a reversal of an optimistic 2008 assessment of cod, and fishermen are skeptical of the preliminary numbers.

Scientists, though, say initial reviews indicate their data is solid.

Friday’s letter was signed by Reps. Barney Frank, John Tierney and William Keating, all Massachusetts Democrats, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, both Maine Democrats, and Frank Guinta, R-N.H.


New ban on ‘bath salts’ takes effect in Vermont

New drug regulations went into effect Friday in Vermont that made possession of the synthetic drug known as “bath salts” a crime.

The Vermont Health Department said that amended state drug regulations now make illegal the synthetic drug — which is not to be confused with the products people use when taking baths — and five other synthetic designer drugs labeled “not for human consumption.”

Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said criminalizing the drugs will protect Vermonters and prevent future problems.

“The best strategy is to get out in front of this before it has a chance to gain a foothold here in Vermont,” Flynn said.

Last August, the state began the process to implement an emergency rule criminalizing bath salts. The new rule took effect Friday and will remain in place until a permanent ban can be enacted.

As of last month, the Northern New England Poison Center has recovered nearly 200 cases of bath salts abuse. Of those, 147 were in Maine, 35 in New Hampshire and 11 in Vermont.

— From staff and news services