AUGUSTA — More than two years ago, Peter George Bathgate II pleaded guilty to the murder of Paul Allen, 47, whose bloodied and battered body was found on the outskirts of Hallowell.
On Thursday, Bathgate, now 33, who is serving a 45-year sentence for Allen’s December 2010 murder, was back in court saying he never should have pleaded guilty, and that the plea was based on bad advice and assistance from his attorney at the time, Kevin Sullivan.
However, the state, through Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, maintains Sullivan’s actions were proper as was everything else at the plea and sentencing.
Bathgate testified in Kennebec County Superior Court Thursday that he told Sullivan that Jessica Jones, Bathgate’s girlfriend at the time and the mother of his daughter, was involved in Allen’s killing, contrary to his statements to police.
“I tried to keep her out of it because of my daughter,” Bathgate said, responding to questions from Stokes.
“She’s the one that called (Allen) out there. She never left the crime scene. She’s the one that put the knife in my hand. While we were fighting, she came over and put the knife in my hand.”
Bathgate said Jones handed him his own buck knife. “At that point he was on the ground, and I had just gotten up,” Bathgate said.
Bathgate said Jones called Allen on his cellphone and arranged to meet at a quarry in Hallowell, but Bathgate said he couldn’t remember what Jones told Allen. “She drove me out there.”
“Are you saying this was all her idea?” Stokes asked.
“To begin with, yes,” Bathgate said.
“Why?” Stokes asked him.
“She wanted to rob him of money, drugs,” Bathgate said. “I wanted to fight him.”
He said Jones did not strike Allen and said nothing at the scene.
Bathgate said he was jealous because Allen had flirted with Jones and because Allen had bought Bathgate’s 3-year-old daughter a toy vanity as a Christmas present. Bathgate said he feared Allen, who was a convicted sex offender, was grooming the girl. At the time of the killing, both men lived in Augusta.
To many questions, however, Bathgate responded, “Not that I can recall.”
Sullivan testified after Bathgate, saying the two “extensively discussed” Jones’ role in Allen’s death. Sullivan said he had shared some material he had uncovered in his investigation with the prosecutor’s office.
However, he said that Bathgate ultimately decided not to make use of any of it in his defense because he feared Jones also would end up behind bars and their daughter would lose both her parents. Jones was never charged in the case.
Sullivan also said he understood the state could have put Bathgate on the witness stand to testify that he initially lied to police.
Through his new attorney, Verne E. Paradie Jr., Bathgate is challenging the constitutionality of his sentencing and appeal, saying he had ineffective assistance from his attorney, that Sullivan failed to conduct an adequate pretrial investigation, failed to keep him apprised of developments and possible defenses, and that he should have his conviction vacated and a new trial ordered.
Bathgate said at the time of the murder, he had been snorting five to 10 Adderall and 10 to 15 oxycodone pills a day and getting an hour or less sleep every night.
He testified he requested a post conviction review after his family researched similar cases that resulted in shorter sentences.
“I’ve seen a lot of people in for the same (offense) that have gotten a lot less,” Bathgate said.
Few post conviction review proceedings result in a conviction being overturned and a new trial.
Both Bathgate and Sullivan testified they discussed the risks of going to trial and getting a sentence longer than the agreed-upon 45 years Bathgate received in the plea deal.
Bathgate did not deny striking Allen with a cane on Dec. 3, 2010, stomping him with his steel-toed boots. He also didn’t deny running Allen down with Allen’s own truck after he saw him struggle to get up and realized Allen had not died from the beating and repeated stabbing. Police said Bathgate tried to hide Allen’s body, masking it with leaves and debris, near the entrance to the quarry on Winthrop Street near the Manchester line.
He discarded his own clothing and boots at various places in Manchester and Gardiner, and then returned to the scene to locate and destroy Allen’s cellphone because Bathgate figured his number would show up on it. In response to Stokes’ questions Thursday, Bathgate confirmed that he went through Allen’s wallet and stole his money and pills.
Police found Allen’s body Dec. 5, 2010, with the aid of cadaver dogs, less than a mile from where his truck had earlier been found.
Police located Bathgate several days after the killing when he called them to talk about it and indicated Allen had been run down with his own truck. Bathgate was captured after a night-long standoff when police fired tear gas into the vacant Augusta apartment where he had holed up.
On the stand on Thursday, Bathgate said he couldn’t remember the standoff and couldn’t remember smoking all his cigarettes that night, but realized they were gone when he awoke in the morning.
Bathgate told Paradie he must have “blacked out or fell asleep.” He said he was coming down from the drugs during police questioning and didn’t fully understand when police read him the Miranda warnings.
“The only thing I really remember is having ink all over my hands and being stripped down for photos,” Bathgate testified.
At Thursday’s hearing, Bathgate was dressed in the blue work shirt and blue jeans that are the standard Maine prison uniform. His hands were cuffed and attached to a leather belt at his waist. His ankles too were shackled. His dark hair was longer and wavy in contrast to his shaved head at the sentencing hearing. Several times he asked for water to drink, and was given some by court officers.
Relatives and friends of Bathgate, including his current girlfriend, watched the hearing from a bench at the back of the courtroom.
Bathgate’s mother, Ann Bathgate of Albion, said the family hopes for a new trial but did not expect the judge to make a decision Thursday.
“Our plan is just to be here to support Peter,” she said.
Ann Bathgate said the family visits him every couple of weeks at the prison in Windham.
Relatives and friends of Paul Allen too sat through the hearing.
Allen’s ex-wife, Kathleen, left the courtroom at one point as Bathgate was questioned about what happened to Allen the night of the killing.
During a short recess later, she said she was doing “the best that I can.”
Paradie’s first witness was Dr. Carlyle Voss, a forensic psychiatrist, who evaluated Bathgate at the prison and who saw videotapes and read transcripts of Bathgate’s questioning by police, testified that Bathgate was likely aware of what he was doing at the time of the slaying and knew it was wrong.
At the close of Thursday’s four-hour hearing, Justice Michaela Murphy set an April 4 deadline for Stokes and Paradie to file closing arguments in writing and said she would rule later.