Maine prosecutors were forced to withdraw a murder indictment against a man who was a minor at the time he and another man are accused of killing a Portland fisherman 15 years ago.

Khang Tran, 30, was indicted by a grand jury on one count of murder on Dec. 4, alongside Shane Hall, 36, according to court records. Portland police said the men were involved in the stabbing death of 37-year-old Frank Williams in 2008.

Khang Tran Courtesy of Portland Police Department

But Tran was 15 at the time, and as a result, prosecutors say they were forced to drop the charges on Dec. 15 and withdraw the indictment.

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani wrote in a brief notice of dismissal that it was for “jurisdictional reasons,” but did not elaborate on what those reasons were in the filing.

Under Maine law, if a person is accused of committing a crime as a juvenile, they must be prosecuted through the juvenile court system, even after they become adults. Prosecutors can then ask a judge to move the case from juvenile to adult court.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Attorney General said Wednesday that prosecutors will reevaluate Tran’s case when he returns to Maine in March to finish a sentence for his role in a separate slaying, the 2012 killing of Matthew Blanchard. Tran is currently in federal prison in Louisiana on unrelated drug charges.


Prosecutors did not respond to specific questions Thursday about why they had pursued Tran’s indictment even though he was a juvenile in 2008, or why they are waiting to pursue charges against him in the juvenile system now. A spokesperson did say they would consider pursuing a bind-over hearing to have him tried as an adult – if they do file charges in the juvenile system.

Tran was never appointed a criminal defense attorney for the charge, according to his file.

Frank A. Williams, III Courtesy of FBI

Williams was stabbed near Kennedy Park just before 2 a.m. in August 2018 by three men whom police said he likely knew. Williams had a 1-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. The case went unsolved for more than 15 years until Portland police announced the indictments against Tran and Hall in December.

Police and prosecutors have not said whether they’re pursuing charges against a third person. The attorney general’s office said Hall is the only person charged with murder at this time. Hall’s defense attorney did not respond to messages Thursday afternoon about the charge against his client and whether Tran’s dismissal will affect Hall’s defense.

A spokesperson for Portland police referred all questions about Tran’s dismissal to the attorney general.

Just three days before the charge was dropped on Dec. 15, Assistant Chief Robert Martin said that police hoped the indictment would give Williams’ family closure. Martin offered no details in December on the investigation and what led to the indictments.

Tran is serving an unrelated five-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty in January 2020 to one count of distributing cocaine base and one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, according to court records. He is in prison in Louisiana and is scheduled to be released in March, the Bureau of Prisons said.

Then he will be transferred to Maine to serve the rest of a four-year sentence in state prison after pleading guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy for his role in Blanchard’s death.

Hall is serving a 15-year sentence in Maine for kidnapping a Rockland woman as she walked home from work in 2017.

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