A judge on Thursday ruled that a mentally ill man known to smoke crack cocaine can be called to testify as a key prosecution witness in the trial of a Portland man accused of shooting another city man to death in 2014.

The judge in the case against 25-year-old Abdirahman Haji-Hassan also ruled, over the objection of prosecutors, that defense attorneys can name an alternative suspect during trial, because that man, Gang Deng Majok of Portland, was also in the apartment at 214 Brighton Ave. when 23-year-old Richard Lobor was killed.

Majok faces murder and assault charges in a separate shooting at a recording studio in Portland’s Old Port that left one dead and one injured last year.

Haji-Hassan’s case is scheduled for jury selection on Friday. His trial is scheduled to start with opening statements by attorneys on Tuesday in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

The judge made the rulings Thursday during a pretrial hearing at which prosecutors sought to have Michael Deblois declared mentally competent to testify despite having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia since 1997. Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea called Deblois to the witness stand to answer questions aimed at demonstrating his competence.

Deblois, 45, was the tenant of the apartment where Lobor was killed on Nov. 21, 2014, and called 911 to report the shooting. Other men were in the apartment when Lobor was shot in the leg and head, but only Deblois has cooperated with authorities.

Deblois spoke with precision and seemed to have a firm grasp of his surroundings as he identified each of the officials in the courtroom and explained their different roles. He also recalled some basic details from the night of the shooting.

But under questioning by one of Haji-Hassan’s attorneys, Molly Butler Bailey, Deblois tried to explain a statement he gave to police in 2014 about a woman and “her little invisible friends.” He said the memory could have been from the night before the murder, or may have dated back to an episode in Colorado in 1992.

“No one’s talked about it, and I haven’t talked about it, but it hasn’t appeared to go away,” Deblois said, referring to the 1992 incident at which he suggested the murder was foretold. “I heard something about this. I would be involved in a shooting later on in life, and I didn’t know if I would live or die.”

Deblois said he could not recall whether he was taking his prescription medication for schizophrenia in 2014, but said he is taking it now.

“I’m going to find Mr. Deblois is competent to testify and leave all questions of believability to the jury,” Justice Thomas Warren said in his ruling.

Defense attorney Butler Bailey had argued at a previous hearing seeking to have Deblois’ testimony excluded because he had been high on crack cocaine before the murder, as it occurred, and while calling 911 to report it, and because of his schizophrenia.

Deblois knew the men in his apartment only by their nicknames, “Fresh,” “Dreads,” “New York” and “Jordan.” He allowed them to use his apartment in the Princeton Village complex for parties and gave them rides in exchange for drinks, food and crack cocaine, according to police. Police subsequently identified “Fresh” as Lobor, “Jordan” as Haji-Hassan, “Dreads” as 29-year-old Mohamed Ashkir and “New York” as Majok.

Majok, 31, of Portland, is charged with murder in the May 25, 2015, shooting death of 19-year-old Treyjon Arsenault and wounding of 21-year-old Mohamed Ali of Portland at Da Block Studios at 371 Fore St. in Portland. He and another defendant in that case, Johnny Ouch, 21, of Westbrook, are scheduled for trial starting Sept. 12.

Another of Haji-Hassan’s attorneys, Clifford Strike, told the judge Thursday that he may also argue to have one or more other men named as additional alternative suspects in Lobor’s murder.

Deblois told police on the night of Lobor’s murder that he entered the living room while Haji-Hassan and Ashkir were arguing in a foreign language and that Haji-Hassan pointed a silver-colored .357-caliber revolver at Ashkir, according to an affidavit by Portland police Detective Maryann Bailey.

” ‘Jordan’ was moving the revolver up and down and counting. He was telling ‘Dreads’ to leave the apartment,” Bailey wrote. ” ‘Fresh’ moved in between ‘Dreads’ and ‘Jordan’ to mediate the situation.”

Deblois testified Thursday that he heard three shots, but saw only two of them.

Police in Minnesota arrested Haji-Hassan in Minneapolis on Dec. 19, 2014, and he has been held since then. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of willful and intentional murder, which is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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Twitter: @scottddolan


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