AUGUSTA — Raymond Bellavance admitted several times that he set the fire that destroyed the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, according to a woman who said she was his former girlfriend.

Teena Savage of Readfield also testified Tuesday that Bellavance had threatened her.

“He threatened to burn my house down and shoot my horse if I told anybody about the fire,” Savage said during the fourth day of Bellavance’s trial on arson charges.

Savage said she and Bellavance had an eight-month relationship following the coffee shop fire on June 3, 2009.

Savage said she is a cousin of Krista MacIntyre, also a former girlfriend of Bellavance, who was a waitress at the shop on Route 3 in Vassalboro. Prosecutors contend that Bellavance was jealous and didn’t want MacIntyre working at the topless coffee shop.

The last witness Tuesday, Troy Hallett, formerly of Hallowell and now imprisoned for multiple burglary and theft convictions, testified that Bellavance spoke several times about how he hated MacIntyre’s job.

“He said he was going to burn down the doughnut shop and kill her, but he never really said he did it,” Hallett said.

Bellavance, 50, of Winthrop, is charged with two counts of arson. The business, which opened in February 2009, was owned and operated by Donald Crabtree, who escaped the fire without injury along with six other people living in the building, a former motel.

Bellavance has denied the arson charges and is being tried in Kennebec County Superior Court.

A second inmate, Kristopher Russ, testified Tuesday that Bellavance attacked him in jail Jan. 13, calling him a “rat” and a “snitch” for telling authorities that Bellavance confessed to setting the fire.

Sgt. Steven Schutt testified that he broke up the jail fight by using pepper spray on Bellavance. He said Bellavance told him, “It’s nothing against you guys; he ratted me out.”

Russ said he’d been out of jail briefly on probation when Bellavance approached him in June 2009 at a cookout in Litchfield to ask for help getting money.

“He told me he burned it down ’cause Krista MacIntyre slept with Donald Crabtree,” Russ said. He said his reputation as a “stand-up dude” at the jail suffered after he offered statements about Bellavance. Russ said he almost didn’t testify because he’s worried about what will happen to him in jail.

Russ said Bellavance decided to flee Maine because he thought police were about to charge him with setting the fire. Bellavance left the state in a car driven by his stepson, Alex Lane, and Lane’s girlfriend, according to Lane.

Lane testified that Bellavance bankrolled the road trip to Spartanburg, S.C., but ran out of money.

“We ended up staying a long time,” Lane said. “We got down there, we got stranded down there.”

Lane said he did not learn there was a warrant out for Bellavance’s arrest until they were out of state.

Bellavance contacted his lawyer, his ex-wife and several other people while he was in South Carolina, according to Lane.

Lane also said Bellavance admitted to him that he’d burned down the coffee shop. Lane said Bellavance told him he and another person got a ride there, poured gas into the building, lit it and escaped through the woods.

Bellavance was caught in South Carolina in May 2010 by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 8:15 a.m. today, with Hallett returning to the witness stand. Hallett is expected to testify about telling a state fire marshal that Bellavance used gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints or DNA on a gas can found at the scene.

The revelation about the use of gloves, however, is expected to be contentious. Both the defense and prosecution said that Hallett didn’t mention the gloves in a taped interview with investigators about Bellavance.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Alan Kelley, said he expects to complete his presentations today with the testimony by Kenneth MacMaster, who was the primary fire marshal investigator, and two other witnesses. The defense attorney, Andrews Campbell, is expected to then call witnesses.

The judge also warned the jury of eight women and six men that the trial could continue into next week.

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: [email protected]