Police have framed it as a robbery gone wrong.

Now, one of the four men charged with felony murder last year testified Friday that he was never part of the plan to rob Derald “Darry” Coffin and Annabelle Hartnett.

Thomas MacDonald, 45, took the stand in the murder trial of Damion Butterfield, 24, the man accused of killing Coffin shortly after 1 a.m. on April 26, 2022, and nearly killing Annabelle Hartnett. Butterfield has pleaded not guilty and is in the midst of a two-week trial in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Police charged MacDonald, Butterfield, and two other men – Jonathan Geisinger and Anthony Osborne, both 46 – for their alleged roles in the attempted robbery and Coffin’s death. Prosecutors say Osborne set it all up, sitting in the backseat of Hartnett’s Range Rover on Woodford Street as the other three men approached, demanded money and attacked Coffin.

The state’s case depends heavily on MacDonald’s confessions.

He reached a deal with prosecutors in April to plead guilty to one count of hindering apprehension (for hiding the murder weapon) in exchange for testifying against the other men.


The deal depends on his truthful testimony. And the jury’s verdict will depend largely on whether or not they find his testimony credible.

Much of MacDonald’s testimony made it seem like Butterfield was almost entirely to blame for Coffin’s death and Hartnett’s injuries.

“Do you feel like you were responsible for what happened?” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue asked him.

“I don’t feel responsible,” MacDonald said. “I feel ashamed for being with those particular people. It’s something that was completely out of my character. I wish I had known what was going to happen, so maybe I could change it.”


MacDonald said he was with his childhood friend Jonathan Geisinger the night of April 25. Geisinger told him girls were waiting for them at a hotel in South Portland, but they needed to bring drugs.


The men stopped at a house, MacDonald said. Geisinger stepped out, and returned with Osborne and Butterfield.

MacDonald said he recognized Osborne because they grew up in the same neighborhood, but he had never met Butterfield. He said the young man bragged about being in a gang.

Damion Butterfield appears in the courtroom at Cumberland County Superior Court on Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The group let Osborne out near the Burger King on Forest Avenue and drove around until Osborne texted  Geisinger to come to Woodford Street.

“I thought there was some kind of a party or something,” MacDonald said.

They approached Hartnett’s car and noticed her in the back seat with Osborne sitting, “nonchalant.” Coffin was in the passenger seat.

Butterfield started shouting at Coffin, MacDonald said, while he and Geisinger hung back. MacDonald said Coffin got out of the car and there was a “scuffle.” MacDonald said he never got involved.


Then Butterfield stepped into the street, pulled out a gun, and fired at Coffin, then Hartnett when she got out, MacDonald said. 

It all happened in a matter of 20 seconds, MacDonald said, fast and intense. He was in shock as they ran back to the car where they ducked down as police cars sped past, he said.

“I had never seen anything like that before, in front of me,” said MacDonald. “I was pretty emotional – I was just trying to – I don’t know. I can’t describe how I was feeling. Everything felt super surreal.”

Geisinger was upset with Butterfield, who was more matter-of-fact, even proud, MacDonald said. They left Osborne behind.


The trio drove back to MacDonald’s apartment in Westbrook with the headlights off. When he saw the gun on his kitchen table the next morning, he recognized it as one he sold to Geisinger less than a month earlier.


MacDonald tried hiding the gun at a friend’s home later that morning, while Geisinger and Butterfield were still sleeping in his living room, he said. But that friend made him come back for the gun later. So he hid it in the back of his truck, wrapped in a bag and towel.

MacDonald spoke with police several times after the shooting, including when they searched his home on April 29, but he denied any involvement.

“I was afraid of the fact that it felt like things were pointing at me,” MacDonald said. “I was afraid that my ignorance to the law system would put me in a bad situation, unknowingly. And I just felt super emotional. I saw somebody die two days before that, you know, and … I was just afraid of all of it.”

He started to confess the next day when he showed up at the Westbrook Police Department. But it wasn’t until after his arrest in June, he said, that he shared the full truth with prosecutors, detectives, and his defense attorney, Randall Bates.

“I knew I wanted to make it right,” he said Friday. “I thought that the families at least deserved to know what happened to their loved ones. I just wanted to just kind of clear the air, and let everyone know what happened.”



Butterfield’s attorney, James Howaniec, suggested MacDonald had ulterior motives for testifying – namely the reduced sentence. Howaniec has called MacDonald’s plea a “sweetheart deal.”

Howaniec has argued it was one of the three other men who shot Coffin and Hartnett, and that they all conspired to pin the act on Butterfield, a troubled young adult almost half their age.

He pointed to the two false alibis MacDonald gave to police. And MacDonald didn’t immediately tell police that he sold Geisinger the gun that Butterfield allegedly used.

“You would agree that if we went through every single story you told the police, it would take hours, right?” Howaniec asked at one point.

“Give or take,” MacDonald said.

And Howaniec’s questioning suggested MacDonald’s story might still be off. His testimony Friday didn’t line up exactly with what Hartnett, another crucial state witness, said Wednesday.

Hartnett testified that she was inside an apartment when she saw the men pull Coffin out from the passenger side of the car. MacDonald said it looked like Coffin stepped out on his own.

And when MacDonald said he never got that close to the fight, Howaniec asked if MacDonald was aware of any fingerprints left on Hartnett’s car, which could place him closer to the fight than he indicated. MacDonald said he didn’t know.

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