Damion Butterfield leaned back in his seat beside his court-appointed attorney Friday and listened as his lawyer and state prosecutors began to debate how a series of profane calls Butterfield made from jail should be presented at his murder trial.

His attorneys said they were concerned that his at times volatile language and off-the-cuff statements might be taken out of context by jurors.

Butterfield interrupted, shouting a vulgar insult at Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy and asking to be taken away.

“See you guys at trial,” he said, his shackles rattling as a sheriff’s deputy escorted him outside.

It was the last hearing before Butterfield, one of four men charged in the fatal robbery in Portland last spring, is scheduled for a two-week trial starting Wednesday.

His defense attorneys have described him as deeply troubled and impulsive. They say the state’s case against him leans on unreliable witnesses and statements Butterfield made while he was heavily medicated for severe mental illness.


Arguments soon moved from the contents of the calls to concerns about Butterfield himself. After he was removed, Kennedy said that she planned to increase security presence and even moved Butterfield’s table farther from where jurors sit.

Derald “Darry” Coffin Photo courtesy of Terry Leonard

Butterfield, 24, is accused of killing Derald Coffin and wounding Annabelle Hartnett during a robbery in April 2022. In June, he pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible to murder and attempted murder charges.

His defense team is trying to cast doubt on whether he pulled the trigger, or if he took the fall for three co-defendants twice his age.

But the attorneys opened Friday’s hearing with a motion to be taken off the case. Kennedy quickly denied it after a brief discussion behind closed doors. The judge and the attorneys never explained why the motion was filed so close to trial.

Butterfield was originally scheduled to be tried alongside three co-defendants – Anthony Osborne, 46; Jonathan Geisinger, 46; and Thomas MacDonald, 45.

Annabelle Hartnett stands on Woodford Street in Portland near where she was shot and her friend Darry Coffin was killed in April 2022. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

MacDonald pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of hindering apprehension in exchange for his testimony, and Kennedy agreed to sever the remaining defendants’ cases in September. Osborne is scheduled to start a jury trial on Jan. 10. Geisinger’s file was unavailable at the courthouse Friday, and a list of homicide cases maintained by the state attorney general’s office does not have a date listed for his trial.



The state’s case against Butterfield relies heavily on MacDonald’s confession and hours of calls Butterfield made from jail, during which he worried about being found guilty. Prosecutors described one call in which Butterfield said that if he is sentenced to life in prison he plans to get a coffin tattoo on his back – an apparent reference to the victim’s last name, prosecutors said.

One of Butterfield’s attorneys, James Howaniec, said many of those calls were made in May 2022 when Butterfield was heavily medicated at the York County Jail. He tried to convince the judge to limit how many of those recordings could be used.

Butterfield often references gang activity and uses vulgar language, some of which Howaniec was concerned the jury might find racist if taken out of context and prejudice them against his client.


A car linked to a fatal shooting on Woodford Street in Portland is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck as a Portland police officer surveys the ground nearby in April 2022. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

In one call with Osborne’s son, Lorenze Labonte, Butterfield complained about an interview Hartnett gave to the Press Herald in May in which Hartnett said Osborne, whom she called “Bear,” had orchestrated the attack after she and Coffin picked him up on the way back from Burger King.

A police affidavit never states that Hartnett identified Butterfield as the shooter. She told the Press Herald she couldn’t see her shooter that night, and she was scared he would come back for her.


Labonte told Butterfield that he hadn’t heard from his father since the shooting. Police announced Osborne’s arrest a few weeks later. Labonte, 25, has been charged with murder in what appears to be an unrelated shooting in Biddeford on Nov. 24, though state police have released few details about the case.

James Harrison, a neuropsychologist who testified about Butterfield’s difficult upbringing at a hearing in August, said Butterfield has struggled with mental illness and trauma for much of his life and doesn’t know when to stop talking.

Kennedy is still deciding whether to let Butterfield’s lawyers call Harrison as a witness. He evaluated Butterfield in June 2023 and in 2017 when he was a juvenile. Howaniec said Harrison could offer important context on Butterfield’s impulsivity and medications.

“We’re asking to present a single witness and put on a defense,” Howaniec said. “This is a kid that’s taking massive, massive dosages every day, morning to night. Massive ingestions of medications to deal with his severe, profound mental illnesses.”

But Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said that just because Butterfield didn’t use good judgment when he made the statements, it doesn’t mean they’re unreliable. She argued against further testimony, saying the attorneys can offer whatever interpretation of the calls they want the jury to have during closing arguments.



Howaniec argued much of what prosecutors planned to use had nothing to do with Butterfield’s actual guilt and that the information risked unfairly prejudicing the jury against him.

Robbin said no innocent person would have made such remarks about potential prison time.

“The state has a right to put in these inculpatory statements, and the jury has a right to hear them,” Robbin said.

Kennedy ultimately allowed all of the recordings to be admitted as evidence for either side but agreed to share instructions with the jury in an effort to offer some context, including the definition of a racially charged expletive Butterfield used so many times that prosecutors joked it would be impossible to redact. His attorneys argued the word is often used as a term of endearment.

Howaniec also was concerned about the jury hearing any references Butterfield makes to gang-related activity, arguing that he’s not a gangster and that the statements could be taken out of context.

“He thinks he’s a gangster. He’s not a gangster,” Howaniec said. “He’s an extremely troubled, mentally ill young man who gets into a lot of fights.”


Kennedy said they will decide how to address these references as they come up.

Howaniec told Kennedy that the defense has received so much evidence from the state, much of it within the last five months, that police could have shared earlier.

Prosecutors are legally required to share all evidence, especially anything that could be exculpatory or prove innocence, with the defense so the attorneys can investigate and prepare their case.

Howaniec said that police have had much of the evidence he received in August – tall binders of paper evidence, several DVDs and hard drives of cellphone data and police interviews – since May 2022. And now there’s no way Howaniec and the other attorneys can read all of it.

“We just live in an age where all this digital information is overwhelming everybody,” he said.

As a remedy, he asked Kennedy to bar Hartnett and MacDonald from testifying. Kennedy said she won’t do that, but she will consider when prosecutors can use cellphone data from the two witnesses’ phones that was given to the defense in August.

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