AUGUSTA — A gunshot victim told police he was defending himself and struggling with his intoxicated friend when a handgun went off and shot him in the leg.

Joshua Belyea, 26, spoke to police at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where he was taken after the early morning shooting on Jan. 23.

An affidavit by Gardiner police Detective Michael Durham says Belyea told him that Paul Nicolas Coyne, 30, of Augusta, and Coyne’s girlfriend, Martha Brown, 22, of Lynn, Mass., had joined Belyea at another woman’s Spring Street apartment, where the four had dinner and drinks – with the men drinking coffee brandy – played games and were getting ready to end the evening when the men became embroiled in a fight.

Mara Hayford, who lived in the apartment, said Belyea made a remark about Brown that angered Coyne. Belyea said Coyne went to his car and got a handgun and pointed it at Beylea’s face.

“He said he struggled with Paul to try to get the gun away from him,” Durham said in the affidavit. “He said that during the struggle, the gun went off and he was shot in the right shin, below his knee.”

Coyne and Brown fled, Belyea said, and Hayford called for help.


Durham’s affidavit said Belyea was in a lot of pain but did not tell officers or paramedics at the time what had happened or who shot him.

When investigators searched the apartment, they found “a deformed 9 mm bullet which appeared to have struck something” plus a spent 9 mm Luger shell casing under a rocking chair, Durham said.

“There was a large amount of blood in the kitchen and living room on the floor, spanning from the entry door to the living room carpet,” according to the affidavit.

Coyne and Brown were found early the next day in Lynn, Mass., and on Friday, Coyne made an initial court appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court via video from jail on a charge of violating probation but not on any shooting charge.

“Once we have the final police reports, we will make a decision on the appropriate charges,” said District Attorney Maeghan Maloney. “He is being held without bail. For that reason it gives us more time to complete the investigation.”

The affidavit is in support of three charges: possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, aggravated assault and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.


A day after the shooting, Massachusetts State Police reported finding Coyne in a parked car with Brown and Coyne’s brother. Police said they recovered a 9 mm pistol, ammunition, a white powdery substance believed to be heroin and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.

On Jan. 24. Paul Coyne was charged in that state with knowingly being around heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws, disguising his identity to obstruct justice and being a fugitive from justice. Brown was cited on two gun charges, two drug charges and a city knife violation; while Michael Coyne, 32, Coyne’s brother, is facing two drug charges.

Belyea is expected to make a full recovery, Gardiner Police Chief Michael Toman has said. 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: badams@centralmaine.comTwitter: @betadams


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