Superior Justice MaryGay Kennedy listens to opening statements during the trial of Damion Butterfield in Cumberland County Superior Court on Dec. 6. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Prosecutors promised it would be a straightforward case.

As she laid out the state’s evidence against Damion Butterfield last week, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin told the jury they would hear that Butterfield admitted to being on Woodford Street shortly after 1 a.m. on April 26, 2022.

Damion Butterfield looks around a Cumberland County Superior courtroom last week. Butterfield has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of Derald Coffin in 2022. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Butterfield, 24, is being tried on charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery. He is accused of killing Derald “Darry” Coffin and shooting Annabelle Hartnett last year in what investigators have called a robbery turned deadly.

“You’ll hear that Damion Butterfield admitted that he was there, depending on who he spoke to,” Robbin said during opening statements on Dec. 6. “He did not conceal the fact that he was the shooter. He was proud of it.”

Prosecutors were planning to drive that point home by playing a series of recorded calls Butterfield made from behind bars in which he panicked about news coverage and the prospect of spending life in prison, bragged about his alleged role in the homicide, discussed gang affiliations and even shared plans for a coffin-themed tattoo in an apparent reference to the murder victim.

But the state was forced to rest its case early on Thursday after the judge sanctioned prosecutors and said they were no longer allowed to play the calls.


Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy issued the ruling after Butterfield’s attorneys accused the state of withholding text messages Butterfield sent to his girlfriend from the Maine State Prison in which he both confesses to the killing and threatens to “falsely convict” himself. Prosecutors told the judge that they did not intentionally withhold any evidence, saying they didn’t know about the texts in which he vowed to falsely implicate himself.

The defense had asked Kennedy to dismiss the case, a request she called “extreme and disproportionate.” But she agreed the situation called for a meaningful sanction against the prosecution.

“It was evident from testimony that persons who report to the Office of the Attorney General apparently misunderstand or do not adequately appreciate the seriousness of the state’s discovery obligations,” Kennedy wrote.


Whether or not the prosecution should be able to use the phone calls Robbin referenced has been hotly contested by both parties for some time. Butterfield’s attorneys said the calls are unreliable, full of hot and cold statements he made while he was heavily medicated at the York County Jail. Prosecutors said the statements were voluntary and a crucial part of the state’s case.

The defense team already had tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to throw out the calls, arguing Butterfield struggled with impulse control.


In a pretrial hearing on Dec. 1, when the lawyers were still debating how many of the calls should be played, Robbin argued that just because Butterfield didn’t use good judgment when he made the statements it doesn’t mean that they’re unreliable.

That hearing focused mostly on calls Butterfield made at the jail, where he had turned himself in almost 24 hours after the shooting on an unrelated warrant.

But prosecutors said Wednesday that they also planned to play calls Butterfield made after he was transferred to the Maine State Prison. It’s unclear what Butterfield said in those calls.


Butterfield’s defense attorneys also rested their case Thursday afternoon. They didn’t call any of their own witnesses to the stand. Butterfield declined to testify, answering quietly as Kennedy read him his rights.

“Do you understand that if you choose to remain silent – that is to choose not to testify – the jury will be instructed that they cannot speculate about why you are not testifying, and they cannot use the fact that you don’t testify against you?”


“Yes,” Butterfield said, standing alongside his three lawyers.

Attorneys will make closing arguments Friday morning. The jury then will begin to deliberate five days’ worth of testimony from police, detectives, crime lab analysts, and two witnesses to the shooting – Hartnett, the surviving victim, and Thomas MacDonald, a former co-defendant.

MacDonald is the only witness who has named Butterfield as the shooter. He is now the last major part of the state’s case, linking Butterfield to the gun.

Hartnett testified that she could not see the shooter’s face, but she remembered he was a taller man in a black and red sweater.

Forensic analysts weren’t able to detect any reliable samples of Butterfield’s DNA at the scene or on the gun that was used, which Butterfield didn’t own.

A tall man resembling Butterfield was caught on surveillance cameras outside MacDonald’s apartment after the shooting, but his face was obscured. There is no video from the crime scene.

MacDonald, who faced felony murder and robbery charges, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of hindering apprehension in April. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other charges in exchange for his testimony.

Butterfield’s lawyers argued that the deal made him an unreliable witness, on top of the fact that he said he lied to police multiple times before making a confession.

Whether or not the jury believes MacDonald will likely have a large bearing on Butterfield’s verdict – and any future trials for Anthony Osborne and Jonathan Geisinger, the other two men who still face charges in the attack. Osborne, who prosecutors say orchestrated the attack on Coffin, is scheduled for trial on Jan. 8. Geisinger does not yet have a trial date.

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