AUBURN — Attorneys for a 22-year-old local man charged with murder after shooting a man twice in the back in a Walmart parking lot here last summer are seeking to block a Maine State Police crime analyst from testifying at trial.

Prosecutors said Sgt. Scott Bryant, who took the witness stand for more than an hour Friday, qualifies as an expert in crime scene reconstruction and should be allowed to testify at the trial of Gage Dalphonse.

Defense lawyers said Bryant had nothing new to add to the facts of the case and would simply be presenting evidence that originated with others who could testify themselves at trial.

Gage Dalphonse, who was charged with murder in a shooting at the Walmart parking lot, in Auburn last year appeared in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Friday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Superior Court Justice William Stokes, presiding over the Androscoggin County courtroom, took the matter under advisement and will rule at a later time, he said, after reviewing Bryant’s report and case law involving expert witnesses.

Stokes quizzed Bryant about the possible flight path of the two bullets that struck Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner on June 27, 2019, killing him. One of the bullets struck his lower left side, the other in the center of his upper back, paralyzing him.

Although the routes the two bullets traveled once they hit Fournier was determined at autopsy, the path they took before that would require knowledge of Fournier’s body position at that time, which Bryant told Stokes he didn’t know.

Bryant had written in his report that the autopsy showed both bullets traveled inside Fournier’s body at an upward angle from left to right and from back to front.

Surveillance video of Dalphonse’s car, from which he shot Fournier, blocked the view of Fournier for about 20 seconds, and shows him running away and falling, Bryant said.

Bryant said a crime analyst concluded there was gunshot reside on the outside of Dalphonse’s car, on the pillar between the front and back doors and on the area driver’s side window, consistent with a witness’ testimony that Dalphonse’s torso was out of his car window and turned toward the back of the car when he fired the shots at Fournier.

But defense attorney James Howaniec asked Bryant whether he knew Dalphonse had been at a shooting range earlier in the day, suggesting the residue found on those areas could have been transferred to the car afterward.

“Because there are so many questions left unanswered in his analysis . . . this rises more to the level of speculation and argument,” Howaniec said of Bryant’s report of the shooting.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue said many experts are allowed to testify at trial using evidence gathered by others and drawing conclusions based on that evidence.

“He certainly has the ability to add his side to the knowledge and his opinion about every piece (of evidence) in a way that is helpful and instructive to the jury,” she said.

Stokes said: “My concern is not with his expertise. My concern is that given the number of variables that are in play, he can’t be definitive.”

Defense attorneys also sought to block state forensic psychologists from examining Dalphonse, saying they aren’t planning to present experts supporting a self-defense or insanity defense.

A third issue, whether to move the trial to a different county, also was discussed but not decided Friday.

A trial in the case had been scheduled for June, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Dalphonse has been held without bail at Androscoggin County Jail since his arrest in July 2019.

Police said Dalphonse shot Fournier twice in the back outside Walmart on Mt. Auburn Avenue after they saw each other in the parking lot and had a brief verbal exchange.

The argument apparently ensued after Dalphonse and Fournier’s girlfriend exchanged insults. Fournier then walked over to where Dalphonse had parked his car in the parking lot to confront Dalphonse, according to police.

Some witnesses said Fournier slapped or punched Dalphonse in the mouth before the shooting.

Police said Dalphonse, who had a loaded handgun in a holster at the front of his pants, leveraged his torso out of the driver’s-side window of his car and, twisting to the left, shot Fournier as he was walking toward the back of Dalphonse’s car.

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