A Saco man accused of killing his sister’s boyfriend in November pleaded not guilty Monday.

Lorenze A. Labonte at a hearing Monday in York County via zoom.

Lorenze Labonte, 25, appeared in York County Superior Court via Zoom and pleaded not guilty to murder, possessing a firearm as a prohibited person and tampering with a witness in connection with the Nov. 24 killing of Ahmed Sharif, 27, of Lewiston.

Labonte also pleaded not guilty to assault and violating the conditions of his release – charges connected to a separate incident on Sept. 3. It is not clear what that incident was and Labonte’s attorneys, prosecutors and District Court Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz did not elaborate on those charges during Labonte’s arraignment Monday.

Sharif was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound at an apartment in Biddeford on Nov. 24 around 2:10 p.m. Labonte was arrested a few days later in Saco.

Until Monday, most details of the case have remained under seal; they were withheld from Labonte himself for at least a week.

Moskowitz agreed Monday to unseal a police affidavit supporting Labonte’s arrest. But Labonte’s court file was unavailable immediately after the hearing and his defense attorney and a spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Attorney General declined to provide copies of the affidavit.


The attorney general’s office did share an earlier order from the judge denying Labonte bail, which recaps a Dec. 19 hearing that featured testimony from the Maine State Police detective who investigated the shooting.

The document shows that investigators believe Labonte entered the State Street apartment wearing a ski mask and a hooded sweater.

Sharif was staying there with his girlfriend, Ariana Tito, who is Labonte’s sister, according to court documents. Labonte also had previously lived at the apartment.

Tito, 18, told police on the day of the shooting that Sharif was staying with her because he had told her he was afraid he was going to be robbed. He was in her bedroom and her back was to the bedroom door, she said in the judge’s order, when an unknown man wearing a ski mask entered. She said the man was speaking to Sharif in “a foreign language that may have been Somalian,” the judge’s order states. Then she said she heard a gunshot.

The man spent some time searching for something, she said, before leaving the apartment. She said she followed him out.

Surveillance footage from a neighbor showed a masked individual trying to get into the State Street apartment through a side door, and then walking around the building and disappearing from the camera’s view. About 11 minutes later, the same individual leaves the apartment from the side door wearing a white glove on their left hand. Another person follows the masked individual but then turns around to go back inside, according to the document.


The masked person enters a grey Chevrolet Equinox that was parked outside. Police said the car belongs to Zachary Jewett, 34.

When Jewett talked with police a few days later, his story largely mirrored what was seen on the video. Jewett told police that Labonte, whom he called “Lo,” told Jewett’s cousin that he needed a ride to his mother’s house. Jewett drove them to the State Street apartment where Labonte told Jewett to park in the driveway and then saw him approach a side door, wearing a ski mask and white gloves.

Jewett said Labonte came out the side door several minutes later and told him to drive to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Jewett told police that Labonte threw his T-shirt out a window while they were on Route 111 and that during the drive, Labonte made two phone calls. During one, Labonte allegedly said that he “took him out.”

Jewett told police he believed Labonte shot Sharif because Sharif “supposedly caused the drug overdose death of one of ‘Lo’s’ fellow gang members,” the document states.

Labonte’s attorney Verne Paradie said in an email Monday afternoon that the defense believes Jewett only said this after prosecutors said they could charge him for allegedly driving Labonte away from the scene.

Paradie said two witnesses, Tito and another man who was in Jewett’s car when they picked up the masked man, said the shooter “spoke like a Somali.”


“Two eyewitnesses say that the shooter was likely a Somalian man, speaking Somali, including Mr. Labonte’s sister, who witnessed the shooting from feet away and an individual that rode in the car with the shooter and Mr. Jewett,” Paradie said.

On Nov. 30, a couple of days after police arrested Labonte, detectives spoke with his 10-year-old sister. The girl told police that she recognized Labonte when he knocked on the bedroom window and gave her $10 or $20 to go play at a friend’s house for 20 minutes. When the girl came home, “the police were putting up tape around the house,” the document states.

Paradie said that the girl’s story has changed and he believes she was “coached.”

Labonte’s girlfriend, Kayla Grant, was shot in Saco on Nov. 28 – at the same apartment where Labonte was arrested a day after police took him into custody. Police later arrested Tito in New York and charged her with allegedly shooting Grant.

According to the judge’s order, police said Grant, 32, told someone that Labonte shot Sharif.

Tito was held at Rikers Island until Maine State Police retrieved her and brought her back to Maine on Dec. 27. She was indicted Jan. 5 on one count each of attempted murder and aggravated assault, along with two counts of tampering with a witness. Her arrest records were still sealed last week and details of her case did not come up during Labonte’s hearing Monday.

Labonte and his lawyers are scheduled to be back in court Feb. 9 to argue that his right to make calls from jail be restored. It was unclear Monday why they had been revoked.

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