Noah Gaston stared down at the wooden table as he listened to the recorded 911 call from 6:17 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2016. His own hurried voice rang out from the speaker in the quiet courtroom.

Alicia Gaston

“I just shot my wife in the stomach,” he said on the recording. “I thought she was an intruder.”

The call continued as the dispatcher gave him instructions for chest compressions. As he heard his own voice repeat her count – “one, two, three, four” – Gaston bent his head into his arms and began to cry.

Sitting nearby was the jury that will decide whether the fatal shooting that morning was a crime. Alicia Gaston, 34, died from a single shot from a shotgun in the stairwell of her family’s Windham home.

Her husband has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and manslaughter, and he has been held at the Cumberland County Jail without bail since he was arrested shortly after the shooting. His trial began Monday.

Because Gaston immediately admitted to shooting his wife, legal experts said a central issue for jurors will be his state of mind and whether he knew what he was doing that early winter morning.


During opening statements, one of the prosecutors described forensic evidence that will be presented during the trial and pointed to inconsistencies in the story Gaston told police that day.

“He intended to cause Alicia’s death,” Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said. “He knew it was practically certain that he would cause Alicia’s death. He saw in the illuminated bedroom that she wasn’t in the bed. He didn’t hear walkie talkies or multiple intruders. He saw her as she entered the stairway, and he saw her when she was no more than 18 inches from the muzzle of his shotgun. This was a killing without justification.”

Gaston’s lawyers argued that he acted out of fear that morning and has never changed his story.

Defense attorney Rob Andrews makes his opening statement Monday in the murder trial of Noah Gaston. Andrews said “there is no way that this is anything other than a tragedy.”

“Noah Gaston was defending his family,” defense attorney Rob Andrews said. “He made a terrible mistake. He caused a terrible accident, and there is no way that this is anything other than a tragedy. But it’s not a crime.”

The judge in the case is Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy, an experienced judge first appointed in 2007. The jury, including four alternates, is made up of eight women and eight men.

Wearing a button-down shirt and tie, Gaston showed no emotion when he first entered the courtroom. But he struggled to maintain his composure during the opening statements and some testimony. He sobbed when Elam talked about the young mother falling down the stairs after the fatal shot. He again shook with silent crying as Andrews talked about the sound of the gun. And during the recorded 911 call, he wiped his eyes with both hands, still wearing a golden wedding band on his left ring finger.


Most of the first day of the trial was dedicated to first responders who arrived at the Brookhaven Drive house just before sunrise that morning.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam gestures toward Noah Gaston during her opening statement Monday in Gaston’s murder trial. Elam called it “a killing without justification.”

The jurors saw photos taken outside and inside the house, including images of the stairway where the shooting happened. One image showed blood splatter and an EBT card near the top of the staircase. Another showed a streak of blood on the wall on the bottom half of the staircase.

Police and paramedics pieced together a picture of what happened after Gaston dialed 911. He performed chest compressions on his wife until an ambulance crew took over. Police secured the shotgun and removed the couple’s three children from the house. They took photos for evidence, documenting details like the coffee with fresh ice cubes on a sidetable in the living room.

Windham police Officer Justin Hudnor conducted a brief interview with Gaston in the kitchen as the paramedics worked. On a recording of that conversation, Gaston first said his wife was halfway up the stairs when he fired the gun, then quickly said she was only a couple of stairs up from the bottom of the staircase.

The lawyers for both sides questioned Hudnor about Gaston’s demeanor during that brief interview. The officer described him as “in shock.”

“When he entered the room, he had no emotion on his face, just a blank look,” Hudnor said.


First responders also answered questions about the lights in the house – the upstairs hallway light that apparently was on when they arrived, the downstairs lights that were turned on by police officers and paramedics who arrived to help, a light on the entertainment center in the nearby living room.

Noah Gaston arrives in court Monday with his attorney James Mason.

Prosecutors also asked multiple witnesses whether Gaston asked about his wife’s condition as paramedics stopped their revival efforts and began to pack up their equipment. They said he did not, except when he asked Hudnor toward the end of their conversation how bad the damage was.

The jury also heard from Heather Gilbert – Alicia Gaston’s sister.

Gilbert answered questions that were primarily about her sister’s relationship and daily life. She described the way Alicia Gaston homeschooled the children and sold scarves online to make extra money. She hinted at financial stress, saying she paid for the family’s cellphones. She said her brother-in-law recently left a cooking job and had received bad news about another position shortly before the shooting.

“It is your opinion that they had a loving relationship,” defense attorney James Mason asked Gilbert.

“Yeah,” she said.


“And that Noah Gaston loved Alicia?” he asked.

Gilbert paused.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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