An attorney for a Vassalboro man arraigned Tuesday on a murder charge wants to know more about the man his client is accused of killing — a man his client claims sexually abused him as a child and whose attention to children prompted police scrutiny.
Attorney Brad Grant, who represents Courtney D. Shea, 30, of Vassalboro, has asked to see any law enforcement reports that mention the victim, Thomas A. Namer, 69, of Waterville.
Grant also said Shea will undergo an evaluation to determine whether he was competent at the time of the killing.
On Tuesday, Shea, in a green jail uniform with his wrists and ankles shackled, told the judge his plea was not guilty to a murder charge. He’s being held without bail.
Shea has been in custody since Nov. 22, when he called police to report the body of a man was on property near Shea’s Riverside Drive home in Vassalboro. Shea later told police he blacked out and killed Namer the previous night after Namer touched him sexually. Shea said he’d been drinking and called Namer for a ride. When he got in the car, he said, Namer propositioned him.
Shea also told police he had been sexually abused at age 11 by Namer and previously by other people and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result, according to an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot.
On Tuesday morning, Grant asked Justice Michaela Murphy about his request for police and law enforcement information regarding any contact or incidents police agencies had involving Namer.
Murphy said she approved the order last week. She receives material first and decides whether it is pertinent and should be passed on to Grant.
She said she had seen information from Fairfield and Waterville police departments as well as Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and will pass those on to Grant.
Other material, she said, had come in from Winslow, Augusta and the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. “I’ll review them next week and issue an order,” Murphy told the attorneys.
Grant handed her information he had received directly from the Skowhegan Police Department and said he had received notice that Gardiner and Winthrop police departments had nothing regarding Namer.
A Kennebec Journal review of police and court records, first reported on in December, shows that police in the Kennebec Valley investigated several incidents involving Namer and children, although he was never charged with any child-related offense. The Kennebec Journal’s review showed police looked into reports that Namer gave cigarettes and alcohol to minors and that he was a person of interest “because he was a middle-aged man known to be in the frequent accompaniment of young males,” according to Butch Asselin, Skowhegan’s police chief from 1975 to 2007.
Shea was evaluated by the State Forensic Service, which determined he was competent to enter a plea, but Grant said Shea will undergo another evaluation for criminal responsibility at the time of the killing.
“The competency evaluation did not address whether there were any competency issues at the time of the incident,” Grant said after the hearing.
Grant wouldn’t say what effect the information from law enforcement departments on Namer would have on the defense.
“I’m trying to find out as much about the decedent as I can, and the court today issued an order that will provide some of that information,” he said after the hearing. “I can’t copy it and can’t disclose it to outside sources.”
Grant’s motion to the court says: “Defendant seeks to have disclosed, through discovery, information about Thomas Namer from prior incidents that law enforcement has investigated, made reports of or forwarded for prosecution; defendant seeks all incidents, including non-conviction data, which would otherwise not appear on a State Bureau Investigation run sheet.”
Grant said that without the court order the information wouldn’t be accessible by Shea and noted that Deputy Attorney General William Stokes did not object to the motion.
Murphy told Shea at his arraignment on Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court that the charge of intentional or knowing murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum sentence of 25 years.