Testifying for the second day in his federal trial, Gregory Owens kept his composure for about five hours Friday even as he denied shooting his wife in the head during a masked home invasion in Saco in 2014.

Under sharp cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Chapman, Owens was momentarily rattled a few times, bristled occasionally and gave some awkward answers. But he again denied shooting Rachel Owens and repeated the same alibi he told police more than a year ago.

By the time Owens stepped down from the witness stand on the ninth day of his trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, he had withstood nearly seven hours of questioning over the two days. After his testimony as the final witness in his trial, attorney Sarah Churchill rested the case for the defense.

Lawyers are scheduled to make their closing arguments in the trial on Tuesday, before Judge Nancy Torresen turns the case over to the jury for deliberations. As jurors departed for the day on Friday, Torresen warned them to expect to stay late into the evening on Tuesday if necessary, in order to reach a verdict.

Owens, a retired Army sergeant major and sniper-trained marksman, is accused of driving from his home in Londonderry, New Hampshire, to the home of Steve and Carol Chabot in Saco on Dec. 18, 2014, to shoot his wife, who was visiting as she grappled with rapidly advancing early dementia.

The masked gunman broke into the Chabots’ house at 25 Hillview Ave. by smashing the windows of two doors. The gunman shot Rachel Owens three times while she was in bed in a guest room. The gunman then shot Steve Chabot three times after they came face to face in the doorway of another bedroom. They both survived. Carol Chabot escaped injury by hiding in a locked third room.

Owens decided to take the stand a day after a genetic scientist testified that the defendant’s DNA was found on a broken window of a door to the house that had been smashed by the burglar. The DNA analyst, Jennifer Sabean of the Maine State Police Crime Lab in Augusta, said there was only a 1 in 123 quadrillion possibility that the DNA belonged to anyone other than Owens.

Chapman confronted Owens from the start of his cross-examination Friday, challenging Owens’ general credibility before moving on to disputed aspects of his alibi.

“Do you consider yourself a good storyteller?” Chapman asked in his opening question.

Owens gave a qualified answer to that and began answering another question along the same lines before Churchill, his attorney, objected.

Churchill had questioned Owens first, providing him hours Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to give jurors a synopsis of his life.

Owens, 59, wore a three-piece, charcoal-colored suit on Friday. As he spoke, he often had to stop to explain to jurors the sprinkling of military jargon he used to describe everything from taking a cold shower to dozing off in idle hours. He started the day referring to Churchill as “ma’am,” Torresen as “your honor” and Chapman as “sir” in every instance. But by the end of the questioning, he had stopped calling Chapman “sir.”

Investigators say Owens shot his wife as his double life of lies began to crumble. His mistress, Betsy Wandtke, testified Monday that she had discovered Owens had not left his wife years before as he had told her. She also doubted his claims about being a military operative who went on frequent covert missions overseas, stories he told her to explain his frequent absences.

“You enjoyed the double life you were living?” Chapman asked him, before focusing on different aspects of his affair.

“No, sir, I did not,” Owens replied. “I enjoyed parts of it. Other times, it was killing me.”

Chapman also questioned whether Owens lied to Wandtke when he told her he had filed for divorce from Rachel Owens.

Owens answered that he filled out divorce paperwork, but misled Wandtke about whether he filed it and whether he formally separated from his wife.

“I just never pulled the trigger on the separation or divorce,” Owens said.

Owens went on to say that he had maintained hope until even recently that he could rekindle his relationship with Wandtke, although he has been in jail since his arrest on Jan. 11, 2015.

Now, Owens said he has decided to devote himself to taking care of Rachel Owens.

“I don’t think Rachel believes I had anything to do with it today,” Owens said of the shooting, looking out across the courtroom to his wife, who was seated in the spectator section.

Owens has pleaded not guilty to two federal counts: interstate domestic violence, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, punishable by up to life in prison. After the federal trial, he will face state criminal charges, including aggravated attempted murder.


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