ALFRED — After Patrick Dapolito lost his job in the oil industry, he applied his business sense and organizational abilities to his newfound trade: drug dealing.

He was successful, but a dispute with his suppliers put him and his family at grave risk.

On March 16, 2010, Dapolito returned to his home in Limington after getting cigarettes and coffee from a nearby store. He found his wife, 30-year-old Kelly Winslow, dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

That’s the account that Dapolito’s defense presented Tuesday in his murder trial in York County Superior Court.

His lawyer described Winslow as a casualty of the troubles between Dapolito and his drug suppliers – not the victim of a gun that fired accidentally while a sleeping Dapolito held it, as the defendant had maintained previously.

If convicted of murder, Dapolito, who is 41, will face 25 years to life in prison.

In the months before the shooting, Dapolito feared that he could be killed at any time, defense attorney David Van Dyke told jurors in his opening statement.

Dapolito dictated his will to Winslow, got a gun, bought a $7,000 Doberman pinscher for protection and made plans for them to move to Florida for a fresh start, Van Dyke said.

He described Winslow as the love of Dapolito’s life and said others described the couple’s relationship as “almost adolescently close.”

“He loved this woman,” Van Dyke said as he showed a photo of Winslow to the jury.

On the morning that Dapolito discovered Winslow’s body in the bathroom, he also found photographs of his daughters in the freezer, and his laptop open on the bed with the message: “We shall return,” Van Dyke said. Dapolito froze up and became inconsolable and unintelligible for some time, the lawyer said.

The prosecution and defense apparently agree on some of the things that happened from the time when Winslow was shot to the time when Dapolito surrendered to Maine State Police, three days later.

Dapolito cleaned up the bathroom, wrapped Winslow’s body in a blanket and plastic, put it into a freezer in the basement, then moved it 80 miles to his father’s property in Upton. He later burned bloody clothes in the woodstove in his brother’s home in New Sharon.

The defense had once cast those events as happening in the aftermath of an accidental shooting, while Dapolito was in a panic.

On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber questioned whether Dapolito’s actions made sense if a “phantom drug dealer” had in fact killed Winslow. He pointed out that Dapolito left his 13-year-old daughter alone in the house after the shooting.

Winslow was shot in the head as she lay naked on the bathroom floor with a handcuff on her right wrist. Macomber showed jurors the gun that was used and told them that the only DNA on the gun was Dapolito’s.

The bullet wound indicated that the gun barrel was against Winslow’s head when the trigger was pulled, Macomber said, and a trajectory analysis showed that the shooter’s torso would have to have been off the floor when the gun was fired, meaning the shot was intentional.

Dapolito’s story changed six months after the shooting, after the defense was presented with the trajectory analysis, Macomber told the jury.

Authorities brought in agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration to corroborate Dapolito’s new story, Macomber said. The investigation determined that Dapolito was, in fact, a drug dealer.

But the prosecutor said the jury does not have to determine whether Dapolito was dealing drugs.

“Because, of course, drug dealers sometimes kill their wives, too,” he said.

The prosecution called its first four witnesses Tuesday. Some testified about meeting Dapolito after the shooting and how he got in touch with a lawyer and turned himself in to police.

Kelly Labbe, a former girlfriend who remains close to Dapolito, said she suspected Dapolito and Winslow were doing drugs, but did not know that he was dealing.

When she met Dapolito in a Walmart parking lot after the shooting, he told her he had been high for days.

Labbe said that when she arrived at the parking lot, she didn’t know what had happened to Winslow. Dapolito was upset, crying and paranoid – he was acting as though he were being watched and wanted to leave the area, Labbe said.

“He kept crying. And he said, ‘She’s gone,’” Labbe said. “I said I can go get her and he said, ‘No, Labbe. She’s gone.’“

Dapolito told Labbe later that day about the accident with the gun. She got him in touch with David Sanders, her family’s lawyer. He made arrangements for Dapolito to turn himself in to state police.

The prosecution is expected to continue presenting its case this morning.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be reached at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]