AUGUSTA — A judge on Monday set bail at $700,000 cash for a Winslow man charged with murder in the shooting death of another man outside a Waterville pub last week.
Matthew Partridge, 30, is accused of shooting Justin V. Smith, 26, of South China, in the face with handgun outside You Know Who’s Pub in Waterville last Tuesday following a brief altercation between two groups of men.
The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, said a Maine State Police detective’s affidavit about the event should supply enough probable cause that Partridge committed intentional or knowing murder, and he should not be granted bail.
“The evidence is quite clear,” Benson said. “After an initial altercation he was clearly not involved in … He armed himself and returned to scene. The state admits he evidently was struck by victim. He took his gun and shot the victim.”
Partridge’s attorney, Pamela Ames, said her client was trying to drive away from the scene and that Smith blocked the way and punched Partridge so hard he believed he had a broken nose.
“Smith is the original aggressor, the one who approached the truck, walks up and punches him full force in the face,” Ames said. She said Partridge believed he had suffered serious bodily injury and didn’t know what was happening,
“Is it a robbery? Is it a car-jacking?” she asked aloud.
Ames said Partridge, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, had a gun in his truck and used it to defend himself.
“He had a reasonable belief he had to use deadly force,” she said. “My client was in fear for his life. That is an affirmative defense for murder.”
She said Partridge should not have to sit in jail while awaiting trial, suggesting that he be ordered to continue living at his parents’ Winslow home and have a pre-trial services supervision. “This really isn’t murder. If anything, it may be manslaughter. It may be nothing at all,” she said.
Justice Michaela Murphy set Partridge’s bail at $700,000 cash during a hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Benson had asked Murphy to eliminate Partridge’s right to have bail set, or to set it at $500,000 with conditions he have no contact with Smith’s family. Benson pointed to Partridge’s actions in arguing against bail: “arming himself with a weapon, returning to scene of the initial confrontation and firing the weapon into the victim’s face.”
Ames had suggested a much lower bail — $20,000 worth of property or $10,000 cash — an amount his family might have been able to post for him.
Murphy said the bail could be revisited if a grand jury indicted Partridge on a charge other than murder.
Murphy agreed to Ames’ request to have Partridge taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center for an evaluation of his facial injuries. Ames said Partridge had black eyes and a deformed nose as a result of the punch by Smith.
She told the judge that Partridge served four years active duty in the military and four years inactive and was employed by a Skowhegan business before the shooting. She said Partridge receives a veterans disability payment for military-related injuries, his back problem and a hearing loss.
Both Ames and Benson agreed that Partridge had no criminal record.
Smith had been out that night with two other men, Joshua Broad and Christopher Oxley, according to an affidavit filed by Maine State Police Detective Joshua Birmingham. Broad and Oxley were approached outside the pub by two strangers, later identified as Tucker Foxwell and Partridge.
One of the men punched Oxley in the face, but that fight ended after Oxley said he had a concealed weapons permit.
Broad and Oxley went into the pub to get Smith, and the trio came out and approached Partridge’s Dodge Dakota pickup.
Smith walked up to Partridge and asked, “Who likes to sucker punch people?”
Partridge then shot Smith with a handgun and drove off, according to Birmingham’s affidavit.
Partridge was arrested 20 minutes after the shooting was reported. He told the trooper who stopped him on Route 8 in Smithfield, “You know what the problem is? I tried to defend myself and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, if I was doing the right thing,” according to Birmingham’s affidavit.
Foxwell and two other men were in court Monday to watch the hearing, as were Partridge’s mother and stepfather. They left immediately afterward and could not be reached for comment.
Partridge wore a two-piece green jail uniform and his hands were cuffed to a chain around his waist. He did not address the judge.
A service for Smith is set for 11 a.m. today at Plummer Funeral Home in Windsor.
Betty Adams — 621-5631