BIDDEFORDA man who shot his landlord three years ago with a gun he wasn’t supposed to have took the stand in his own murder trial Thursday.

Randal J. Hennessey, 33, was charged with one count of knowing or intentional murder after firing several rounds at Douglas Michaud Jr., 31, who died from his wounds in September 2021. Hennessey also has been charged with having a gun despite being prohibited from having one because of a 2009 felony conviction.

Randal J. Hennessey becomes emotional while answering questions posed by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Ackerman during cross-examination in York County Superior Court in Biddeford on Thursday. Hennessey is charged with murder in the death of his landlord, Douglas Michaud Jr. in Biddeford in 2021. Hennessey does not deny shooting Michaud but has pleaded not guilty and has rejected two plea deals from prosecutors. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

It’s unusual for a defendant in a murder case to testify. While it offers defendants a chance to share their side of the story, it also means they must answer questions under oath from prosecutors.

In testimony that contradicted what other witnesses have said, Hennessey told the York County Superior Court jury – and a courtroom packed with Michaud’s friends and family – that he shot his landlord in self-defense. He testified that Michaud lunged at him during a confrontation on their front porch the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2021.

“I knew he was going to cause some serious injury,” said Hennessey, who at 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 130 pounds is smaller than Michaud was. “He just came at me and I had a reaction of fear and adrenaline and I just pulled my weapon as fast as I could.”

Hennessey testified that the night before the shooting, he was outside working on his motorcycles when Michaud walked past, tugging on his waistband. Hennessey said he assumed Michaud had a firearm and took that as a threat. That’s why Hennessey said was carrying a pistol the next day, even though he later admitted he had never seen his landlord with a firearm.


Michaud’s girlfriend, Jamie Wakefield, testified Tuesday that her boyfriend had never threatened Hennessey. In reality, she said, Michaud had been avoiding his tenant, who was becoming increasingly confrontational. He was trying to evict Hennessey following a disagreement about the tenant’s multiple motorcycles outside the apartment.

Wakefield was there when Michaud was shot. She said he was bending over to pick up a package at the end of the porch when Hennessey began firing.


Hennessey testified at length about his frustrations with his landlord. Michaud had increased the rent several times since Hennessey moved there in 2018. He was afraid that he, his girlfriend and their two young children would become homeless.

“I didn’t want them to struggle with housing,” Hennessey said, noting that he had lived in his car when he was 16 after being kicked out. “I struggled with housing – the last thing I wanted was for my family to experience that as well.”

By August 2021, the rent had increased by $600 since Hennessey first moved in. He said he was keeping motorcycles outside to repair and resell so he could afford to live there.


But Michaud was concerned that the property wasn’t insured for commercial purposes. He also thought Hennessey was taking too much space.

“I need all this stuff to go,” Michaud said in text to Hennessey that day. “It’s just getting out of hand … it feels like you’re taking advantage of me now.”

Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Ackerman asks a question of Randal Hennessey during cross examination at the York Judicial Center in Biddeford on Thursday. Ackerman said it was hard to believe Hennessey was afraid of his landlord given all of the instances in which he confronted Douglas Michaud Jr. in the hours leading up to the shooting of Michaud in Biddeford in 2021. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

After receiving an eviction notice in the mail two days later, Hennessey sent Michaud several text messages, including a video of himself unzipping a tent that covered Michaud’s boat and some vehicles.

“I just wanted to show Doug, to compare my work area to his work area, that way we both had documentation when it came time to court that it was not really comparable,” Hennessey testified. He said he had taken the video because he “figured it would help for court.”


Hennessey said several times Thursday that he was afraid of Michaud due to their size difference.


Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Ackerman said it was hard to believe Hennessey was afraid of Michaud given all of the instances in which he confronted his landlord in the hours leading up to the shooting – including the video.

“You’re saying you’re scared of this man and yet here you are, sending him a video of you going through his private property,” Ackerman said. “Those two things don’t seem to add up.”

Defense attorney George Hess questions his client Randal Hennessey during redirect questioning at the York Judicial Center in Biddeford on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Nor did his testimony about the porch shooting match the testimony of crime scene investigators earlier this week, Ackerman said.

She questioned how Michaud could have been lunging at Hennessey when he was shot if all the bullet wounds were in Michaud’s back.

Wakefield said Tuesday that after Hennessey fired his first five rounds, he came back and shot Michaud again at closer range.

Hennessey disputed this Thursday, saying his gun only went off that second time because she had pushed him. He grew emotional as Ackerman pressed him on this. Members of Michaud’s family shook their heads, and some began to tear up.

“You wanted payback on that porch,” Ackerman said.

Hennessey’s attorney George Hess tried to object to Ackerman’s questioning, saying she was “badgering” his client.

“You wanted to live by force and arms,” Ackerman said. “And you decided that day that Doug Michaud was going to feel the force and arms from you. … And you took his life.”

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