Damion Butterfield, left, talks with attorney James Howaniec at the start of his trial at Cumberland County Superior Court last week. Butterfield has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of Derald Coffin in 2022.  Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Defense attorneys for the alleged gunman in a fatal robbery last spring have asked a judge to dismiss the charges against him because they say prosecutors failed to share crucial evidence.

Prosecutors were planning to present texts Damion Butterfield sent his girlfriend months before trial, in which they say Butterfield confessed to the crime. But his defense attorneys on Wednesday said that prison staff didn’t turn over copies of the larger conversation in which Butterfield said he would make a false confession.

Derald “Darry” Coffin Courtesy of Terry Leonard

Butterfield, 24, is on trial in Cumberland County Superior Court on murder, attempted murder and robbery charges. He is accused of killing Derald “Darry” Coffin and shooting Annabelle Hartnett shortly after 1 a.m. on April 26, 2022. He is one of four men who were charged in June 2022 in connection to the case.

The trial was essentially put on hold Wednesday. The jury was not in the courtroom while attorneys argued over whether the state purposely withheld evidence that could show Butterfield’s innocence.

Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy did not rule on the dismissal as of Wednesday afternoon. She is expected to make a decision before the jury is scheduled to return Thursday morning. Butterfield’s attorneys also asked Kennedy to declare a mistrial after a key witness’ credibility was questioned, but a spokesperson for prosecutors said the motion was withdrawn late Wednesday.



Months after Butterfield was transferred to Maine State Prison, he texted his girlfriend using a tablet that’s monitored by jail staff.

“I killed Derald Coffin and shot (Annabelle) Hartnett,” the text said.

Prison staff forwarded the text to Andrew Hagerty, the lead detective investigating Coffin’s death. Hagerty later shared that with prosecutors, who say they turned over what they had to Butterfield’s lawyers.

But Butterfield’s defense team argued that in the same conversation, Butterfield also told his girlfriend that he didn’t kill Coffin. The couple was fighting about whether she would block him from contacting her. It wasn’t clear why he was asking her to block him.

“If you don’t block this number, Ima falsely convict myself,” one of the texts said. “I’ll plead guilty and we both know I didn’t do it. … and if you want to call my bluff, then don’t block it. You’ll see it on the news.”

But those texts were never turned over to the defense, and they only found out about them recently when the team decided to investigate the original message for “further context.”


One of Butterfield’s defense attorneys, Daniel Dubé, questioned Cpl. Lori Davies, the prison officer who monitored Butterfield’s messages, about why she never released the messages.

Davies oversees a small team of officers who keep an eye on inmates’ calls, emails and in-person visits. They deal with hundreds of calls and texts every day from more than 800 inmates, she said.

She said it was hard to go through Butterfield’s dozens of messages on her computer system at the time.

She testified Wednesday that the prison already was monitoring Butterfield when Hagerty asked her to keep him updated on any conversations that might be relevant to the case. When she noticed the alleged confession on a two-screen computer where she could see all messages sent in the prison, it jumped out at her.

But had she kept scrolling, Dubé said she would have seen the other texts.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin argued that the messages in which Butterfield threatens to “falsely convict” himself seem to be part of an unrelated conversation.



During Hagerty’s testimony, Dubé also questioned the detective about why he didn’t ask Davies to send him Butterfield’s entire conversation.

“I didn’t put a lot of stock in what was sent to me,” Hagerty said. He testified that he would’ve felt more confident had Butterfield called detectives and confessed to them.

But even without that confidence, Hagerty still shared the texts with prosecutors, Dubé said.

“It’s targeting Mr. Butterfield for his recordings. It’s picking and choosing what’s provided to defense and it’s picking and choosing as to what’s to be presented here,” Dubé said.

Butterfield’s attorneys also asked the judge to order Hagerty and Davies to turn over all of their communications related to Butterfield’s case.


Robbin pushed back hard on the defense’s claims. She said prosecutors shared everything they had with them and Butterfield’s lawyers had ample time to discover the texts before trial – Davies was included on a witness list, and Butterfield’s lawyers could have reached out to her. Butterfield also could have told his attorneys that there was more to the conversation.

She said prosecutors didn’t withhold anything because they weren’t aware of any other messages.

“In hindsight now, yeah. Maybe we should have asked more questions about the process,” Robbin said.


It wasn’t clear Wednesday night why Butterfield’s attorneys withdrew a motion they filed Tuesday asking Kennedy to consider ordering a mistrial after the prosecutors decided they would not be using another key witness to their case. Prosecutors had planned to call Michael Esposito, who was with Butterfield in prison and told police Butterfield had confessed to the shooting last year, according to a police affidavit.

Prosecutors emailed Butterfield’s lawyers this week and said they would no longer be calling Esposito because he made inconsistent statements when he was interviewed again on Sunday, the motion states.

Specifically, Esposito said Thomas MacDonald, a former co-defendant who testified against Butterfield last week and identified him as the shooter, had helped attack Coffin. MacDonald denied this in his testimony.

Butterfield’s attorneys found out about this contradiction on Tuesday, they said, days after MacDonald’s testimony.

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