SKOWHEGAN — Robert Nelson was high on drugs the day Everett L. Cameron was murdered, friends and family testified Wednesday.
It was the third day of Nelson’s trial in Somerset County Superior Court on charges he shot Cameron to death in Anson on Oct. 31, 2009.
Witnesses Wednesday testified that Nelson had a drug problem that escalated that day at a birthday party for Nelson’s four-year-old daughter.
“Up until that point he had kept it a secret that he was using drugs,” said Allison MacMillon, Nelson’s ex-girlfriend and his daugther’s mother. “He wouldn’t use them around his family. I hadn’t seen him like that before. He was clearly not acting like a sober person.”
She said she noticed when he arrived at the party that he was on drugs and spoke to him outside. He was falling asleep standing up and half of a white pill fell out of his pocket during their conversation, she said.
Ellen Howell, Nelson’s aunt, testified she had a conversation with him that day about getting into a drug rehab program after seeing him play roughly with his daughter.
She said he was not belligerent or argumentative, but he appeared to be tired and didn’t have control over his body. “He was obviously under the influence of drugs,” she said.
A family friend, Amanda Shaw, said she and her boyfriend left the party early because they were uncomfortable with Nelson’s behavior.
He stopped her before she got in her car to leave.
“I want you to know that whatever happens, I want to thank you,” he said.
Shaw said she wasn’t sure what he meant. She had talked to Nelson about getting help for his drug problem before and had loaned him money in the past, but she hadn’t helped him with anything that day.
Nelson spent most of the day and the evening before with his then-girlfriend Katie White.
White, 21, testified on Wednesday that she lived with Nelson at the time. His weekly paycheck from Bruce A. Manzer Inc., a paving and construction company, was about $400 and most of it went to drugs, she said.
White said she knew Cameron supplied Nelson with oxycodone pills. They met three or four times a month on Town Farm Road in Anson, the road where Cameron was found dead from a gunshot wound in his pickup truck. White said Nelson would usually get one or two 30 miligram pills from Cameron when the two met.
On the day of the murder, White said she and Nelson went to Starks to cut wood for a friend around 9 a.m. She said while they were there, Nelson snorted Xanax.
She said they returned to their home on Horseback Road in Anson around 1:30 p.m. and she helped Nelson prepare for his daughter’s birthday party.
White said Nelson left around 2 p.m. She saw he’d forgot part of the present, so she called and texted him, but he didn’t answer. White said he came back to the house about fifteen minutes later and told her he met with Cameron and paid him money he owed.
Earlier this week a recording was played of Nelson’s interview with police in which he said that he met with Cameron, but hadn’t paid him. Police estimate that Cameron was killed sometime between 2 p.m. and when his body was found at 4 p.m.
Nelson washed his face and changed his shirt before leaving again, White said.
White said that Nelson seemed fine when he left the house, although he was “screwed up on drugs” when he returned home later that evening.
Lynn Ledger, Nelson’s current girlfriend, testified he left the party day with her that day. She followed him to a parking lot, where she watched him snort two lines of crushed white powder. She said she later followed him home because she was concerned about him driving. She also dated Nelson a few years before, and said it ended because of his drug problem.
Ledger’s brother, Michael Ledger, testified Wednesday he lived with the couple in Anson from 2008 untili the summer of 2009.
Ledger said he was with Nelson the day he found a revolver under the seat of his car. He said the gun was rusty on one side and Nelson wasn’t sure it worked.
“I don’t know what happened to it. He showed it to me and I kind of dismissed it,” he said.
His sister also said she didn’t know what happened to the gun.
White said that while she lived with Nelson she knew of only one gun in the house, a broken riffle that was kept under the bed. She led police to it on the night of the homicide. Nelson was prohibited from having a gun because of a 1994 motor vehicle burglary conviction.
On Nov. 2, 2009, Nelson asked Ledger to tell police the two were target shooting the day before Cameron’s death because he was afraid they would take his guns because he was a convicted felon, Ledger said.
He testified that police asked him to take them to the spot where they had been shooting and he told them Nelson told him to lie.
Ledger said he was pressured by police to have a recorded phone conversation with Nelson in which Nelson said he was sorry to put his friend through the police interrogation.
Nelson told Ledder, “They have no solid leads and that’s why they’re after me. I didn’t do anything,” Ledger testified.
The trial resumes Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368