The state has dropped a murder charge against one of two men indicted in the 2012 shooting death of a Gray man.

Matthew Blanchard

Prosecutors have dismissed seven charges including murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault – against Khang Tran, 29, after he pleaded guilty last month to criminal conspiracy. Tran and Zachary Phach were indicted in April 2021, nine years after 24-year-old Matthew Blanchard died after a shooting in downtown Portland. Both were already in federal prison for unrelated convictions.

A Cumberland County judge sentenced Tran to four years on the conspiracy charge, to be served concurrently with the rest of his federal prison time for the unrelated drug conviction.

Ultimately, Tran will spend four additional years in prison.

“Khang was barely an adult at the time of the crime,” his defense attorney James Howaniec wrote in an email Friday. “He is 29 years old now and is looking forward to being reunited with his young daughter in the foreseeable future.”

Tran was in a federal prison in Louisiana before he was moved to the Cumberland County Jail to prepare for trial. It’s unclear where he will serve the rest of his sentence.


Portland police announced they were charging Tran and Phach last April following a nine-year investigation into what they originally believed to be a random shooting.

Blanchard was living in Gray but staying in Portland at the time of the shooting, unable to spend time in the apartment that he used to share with his girlfriend, who had died two weeks earlier in a car accident. Blanchard was driving and had fallen asleep at the wheel.

He was still clearly recovering from that incident at the time of his death, wearing a cast on his foot and pushing himself with a bicycle.

Blanchard had walked to a store near the corner of Congress and India streets in downtown Portland to buy snacks with three of his brothers around 1 a.m. when they were attacked.

Khang Tran, left, and Zachary Phach

Officers said Phach was the one who fired the gun – a 9 mm – multiple times at Blanchard’s group.

Blanchard was shot in the chest and pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center. Two of his brothers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and another brother was not wounded, although their father told the Portland Press Herald in 2021 that the young men will “never be fully recovered from what happened.”

Police said last spring that they believed Tran had told Phach to bring the gun so they could settle a “beef” with Blanchard and his brothers.

“There were significant questions about the extent of his culpability in this case and we feel comfortable that this is a fair outcome,” Howaniec said.

Phach’s case is still active. A Cumberland County judge agreed to sever his case from Tran’s in late August, just before Tran entered his plea on Sept. 12.

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