AUGUSTA — A Lewiston man argued before the state’s highest court Wednesday, appealing his murder conviction and sentence in the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his baby daughter.

Jaquille Coleman looks behind him in the courtroom in 2022 at Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn. Coleman is charged with the intentional or knowing murder of 19-year-old Natasha Morgan on Aug. 21, 2020. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Jaquille J. Coleman, 29, was convicted in November 2022 at jury trial of the intentional or knowing murder of Natasha Morgan, 19, of Lewiston on Aug. 21, 2020.

Coleman was sentenced to 47 years in prison.

He appealed his conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, claiming that the trial judge had mistakenly admitted evidence that before her death, Morgan had feared that Coleman would hurt her. Coleman also claimed that the judge had wrongly denied his motion for a mistrial after the prosecutor implied during closing arguments that Coleman should have offered evidence or had made a reference to Coleman’s decision not to testify.

Coleman appealed his sentence, arguing that the judge treated as an aggravating factor Coleman’s failure to express remorse about the crime he had committed.

Associate Justice Andrew M. Mead, who presided over Wednesday’s oral arguments before the high court, said it’s important to consider in the context of the closing arguments Coleman’s assertion that the prosecutor shouldn’t have referenced Coleman’s decision not to offer evidence at trial and to not testify.


Mead read from the trial transcript what the defense attorney said to the jury in its summing up of the case: “I want to be very clear, we put on no evidence. We put on nothing about who else could have killed her. Who else might have shot her. We didn’t put that evidence on,” Mead said.

“That is nuanced,” Mead said. “It suggests evidence could exist that someone else shot the victim, but they didn’t put it on because they don’t have to. So, it leaves that hovering in the air.”

The prosecutor “presumably felt necessary to dispel that notion that there’s some evidence somewhere,” Mead said, explaining the prosecutor’s reference to the lack of evidence presented by the defense.

“In that setting, was it improper for the state’s attorney to dispel any lingering penumbra that might have been generated by the defense attorneys nuanced statement?” Mead asked Rory A. McNamara, an attorney representing Coleman’s appeals.

McNamara said it was improper for the prosecutor to suggest that the defense had any obligation to present evidence to refute the prosecutor’s case.

The defense attorney “made an accurate statement of law,” McNamara said, “We don’t have any burden to prove that somebody else did this.”


He said there had been evidence that someone else had been in the car with Coleman at the time of the shooting, but the trial judge had excluded that evidence from the trial.

And Coleman would have had to testify in order to present that evidence and he had no obligation to take the witness stand at his trial, McNamara said.

Associate Justice Andrew M. Horton asked McNamara whether it was permissible for the defense attorney to ask the jury to speculate about what the other evidence might have been (that the defense was not allowed to present at trial about a possible second person in the car with Coleman?)

“Yes, it is. Speculation is the nature of coming up with reasonable doubt,” McNamara said. “I speculate that there may be have been somebody else involved there.”

Horton said the jury had been instructed not to speculate on what other evidence might have been presented.

Assistant Attorney General Donald W. Macomber said the trial judge’s allowance of evidence that before her death, Morgan had feared that Coleman would hurt her, was “harmless error.”


“The evidence was harmless because similar evidence came in the testimony of the victim’s grandmother that the night before the murder, the victim was shaking in fear when Mr. Coleman was knocking on the door, trying to get him to talk to her,” Macomber said.

“The evidence was overwhelming in this case,” he said.

There was an eyewitness to the fatal shooting, he said.

“To reach any conclusion other than Mr. Coleman would have been convicted under any circumstances defies logic,” Macomber said.

Regarding the trial prosecutor’s reference to the lack of evidence presented by the defense, Macomber said the remark was “appropriate” because the defense attorney had “invited” the response from the prosecutor in rebuttal by raising the issue in closing arguments.

Macomber said the sentencing judge in the Coleman case had the authority to determine whether the defendant was genuinely remorseful.


“I think that’s exactly what happened here,” Macomber said. “This court has repeatedly sanctioned the use of lack of remorse as an aggravating factor” at sentencing.

Mead read Coleman’s statement from the sentencing transcript: “I apologize to those who are affected by the loss of Natasha.”

“It sounds like he’s headed towards remorse,” Mead said, “but then he turns and says, ‘I failed to protect the one person who meant the most to me.'”

McNamara said that statement indicated that Coleman was continuing his defense from the trial after having pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Prosecutors said Coleman shot Morgan four times in the driveway of her mother’s home on Scribner Boulevard in Lewiston, just a few feet from where her mother and their 1-year-old baby daughter were sitting in a car.

A doctor at the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Morgan died from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.

Comments are not available on this story.