AUGUSTA — The man convicted of burning down the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro will be sentenced later this month.

A judge this week set the sentencing hearing for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 19, in Kennebec County Superior Court after rejecting a request for a new trial from Raymond Bellavance, 51, of Winthrop.

Bellavance was convicted Dec. 30, 2011, of two counts of arson in the torching of the controversial coffee shop. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

“Obviously we are pleased to get the decision and agree with Justice Murphy’s analysis in the case and are anxious to proceed to sentencing,” said Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley, who was the prosecutor at the trial.

Bellavance’s attorney, Andrews Campbell, said Friday that he was still reading the order. Many of the same points raised in Bellavance’s failed request for a new trial will likely come up again in his anticipated appeal to the Maine Supreme Court, Campbell said.

Campbell said because both charges against Bellavance stem from the same incident, his client would likely face a single jail sentence.

The coffee shop operated in the center of a former motel on Route 3 and featured topless waitresses serving coffee and doughnuts. The building was destroyed in the blaze the morning of June 3, 2009.

The owner, Donald Crabtree, and six other people, including two infants, escaped the fire after being alerted by an ambulance driver who had spotted the glow of fire as he was passing the building.

Crabtree opened the coffee shop in February 2009. The opening drew national media attention to the rural community, which has a population of 4,200, and prompted the town and many others in central Maine to adopt new rules regulating sex-oriented businesses.

Campbell listed several reasons in the argument for a new trial.

He maintained that Bellavance did not get a fair trial because two witnesses, including Thomas Mulkern, who was expected to testify for the defense, turned on Bellavance midway through the 10-day trial.

Mulkern told he jury he accompanied Bellavance to the fire scene and even carried one of the two gasoline cans used to ignite the blaze. Mulkern and his girlfriend, who testified to driving the pair to the topless coffee shop when the fire was reported late on June 2, 2009, received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony.

Campbell also noted that another defense witness who had testified at an earlier hearing opted against testifying at trial, saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

Campbell also argued — as he did several times before and during the trial — that the state failed to provide all its evidence in the case, including threats against witnesses, a report from the Office of the State Fire Marshall, and notes from investigators.

At the oral arguments Feb. 1, Kelley urged the judge to uphold the jury’s verdicts.

The state maintained that Bellavance set the fire because he was jealous that his sometime-girlfriend, Krista MacIntyre, worked there as a waitress. Witnesses, including Bellavance’s wife, testified they heard him threaten to burn down the shop just days before the fire.

Bellavance, who testified in his own behalf, vehemently denied setting the fire. He testified that on the morning of the fire he and three other people were on their way to plant marijuana along a road off Route 3 when their van had a flat tire.

He also told jurors he fled Maine and traveled to New Hampshire after learning in early April 2010 that he was to be arrested and charged with the arson. Bellavance was later arrested by the U.S. Marshal Service in South Carolina.

No evidence directly connected Bellavance to the fire scene.

Murphy, in a 12-page decision, wrote that testimony during the trial provided a sufficient basis for the jury to find Bellavance guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She said those witnesses “established motive, admissions to culpable conduct, consciousness of guilt and proximity in time and place to the fire.”