WATERVILLE — The uncle of Ayla Reynolds was given a court summons on an assault charge Monday.

Lance DiPietro, 27, allegedly kicked Justin Linnell, 22, in the face after a brief scuffle in a parking lot off College Avenue.

Linnell, who declined medical treatment, is the father of Ayla’s cousin, Gabriella Linnell. He is not married to the girl’s mother, Elisha DiPietro.

Lance DiPietro, of 19 Ash St., was driven to and from the scene by Ayla’s father, Justin DiPietro, said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey.

He said that around noon Monday, the DiPietro brothers were heading north on College Avenue. Across the street, they saw Linnell walking north.

Justin DiPietro drove his SUV into a nearby parking lot and stopped, Massey said. Lance DiPietro climbed out of the passenger side carrying a wooden novelty baseball bat and confronted Linnell.


“DiPietro confronted him and said, ‘You’ve been saying stuff about my family. Knock it off,’ ” Massey said. DiPietro then dropped the bat and stepped toward Linnell, and there was a short struggle.

Linnell fell to the ground and suffered a large cut on the back of his head. While he was on the ground, DiPietro kicked him in the face, Massey said. Police photos show a facial injury that’s consistent with a kick, he said.

DiPietro picked up the bat and got into his brother’s SUV, and they drove away, Massey said.

Investigating officer Steve Brame later found Lance DiPietro in Fairfield and questioned him, Massey said.

According to DiPietro’s account for police, Linnell was shouting threats to the brothers as they drove past, and that’s why they stopped.

During a phone interview Monday, Linnell said the assault was unprovoked.


“I didn’t even see them until Lance stepped outside the car with a baseball bat. By that time, I just said, ‘OK, here we go.’

Gabriella Linnell is in the custody of her mother and lives at 29 Violette Ave., the home where Ayla was reported missing on Dec. 17. Ayla was 20 months old at the time.

Linnell said he had just left Waterville District Court in hopes of rescheduling a custody hearing for an earlier date. A protection-from-abuse order forbids Linnell from seeing his daughter, according to court records.

Lance DiPietro could not be reached for comment.

The assault charge, a Class D misdemeanor, carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a fine of $2,000. He is scheduled to appear April 17 in Waterville District Court.

Justin DiPietro was not charged in the incident.

Late Friday, two windows were shattered at the DiPietro home in an apparent act of vandalism. Massey offered no update on that investigation.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at: bmccanna@centralmaine.com


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