A man will not face criminal charges in connection with the stabbing death of his landlord at a Pittston boarding house in August, the Office of the Maine Attorney General said Tuesday.

That’s because Jeff Krouse, 28, acted in self-defense when he fatally stabbed Dale Clifford, 51, according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese.

“We will not be pressing any criminal charges in this case,” Marchese said. “Mr. Krouse would raise the justification of self-defense and the state would have to disprove that beyond a reasonable doubt.” She said an extensive review of the case by the AG’s office determined Krouse acted in self-defense.

The announcement that the attorney general’s office would not press criminal charges came on the same day that authorities released emergency dispatch transcripts to the Kennebec Journal in response to a Freedom of Access Act request. Transcripts of the calls to police were released Tuesday, laying bare Krouse and his girlfriend’s frustration and pleas for help in an escalating tenant-landlord dispute.

Krouse and his girlfriend, Lucinda Albano, who were staying at the boarding house in Pittston, made eight calls to police throughout the day on Aug. 15, saying their agitated landlords were illegally evicting them and giving them just hours’ notice to leave.

The couple were being eviced from the boarding home run by Clifford and his wife, Debora, a historic mansion at 1135 Route 194, in the East Pittston village. The massive Queen Anne-style house — known as Moody Mansion or Konig Villa — is a landmark in the village.

After a Maine State Police trooper responded to the initial calls and left in the early afternoon, the pace of the couple’s calls for help accelerated as they alleged the Cliffords had threatened them and wouldn’t allow them to retrieve their belongings.

Exasperated, the couple pleaded with authorities to help after being told by the trooper the dispute was a civil matter.

“Is there literally anyone that can protect us and help us? Because I have a feeling these people are going to hurt us,” Albano told a police dispatcher shortly after 5 p.m. Later in the conversation: “I mean, we just moved up here from Pennsylvania. I’ve never been in a situation like this in my entire life. And I have never met people like this, and I have never been in any other situation where no one will help.”

Less than an hour later, Clifford died following the stabbing, which Albano told the Kennebec Journal the following day was in self-defense.

‘WE’VE BEEN CALLING’

According to the newly released transcripts, the Regional Communications Center in Augusta was first called at 9:20 a.m. with a report that tenants had been given 24 hours’ notice by the landlords to leave after an earlier written notice to get out by Sept. 30.

The caller, whose name is redacted in the transcripts and was either Albano or Krouse, said the couple had nowhere to go. The caller told the dispatcher the landlord was suspect — “they’re probably running an illegal boarding house” — and said the landlords no longer would accept a check, only cash.

State police Trooper Seth Allen responded and spoke with the tenants and the landlord. But police dispatchers were called back at 1:08 p.m. with the caller saying that though the trooper said the “landlord is willing to talk to me, that it’s safe to come back over here … he was wrong.”

“I got to the house, the landlord started yelling so I just quickly got back to my car,” the caller said. “And I asked him, I said, I don’t feel safe going over there, but he said that the guy said that it would be OK, but it’s obviously not.”

The caller, whom the dispatcher addresses as ma’am — Albano — called police back throughout the afternoon, first at 1:46 p.m. to report that the landlord wouldn’t let them in to get a cat and clothing. The landlord screamed and blocked the door, the caller said.

The dispatcher said Allen would get back in touch with them. That apparently never happened, and the tenants continued to call police dispatch back, again at 3:18 and at 3:55.

At 5:10 p.m., Albano called again to say Clifford was harassing them and told them “we have three hours to get out” — though the couple had paid rent through the next day.

During this call with a dispatcher, Albano says Allen “said there was nothing he could do because it was a civil matter,” but that the trooper had also said the landlords at least needed to let them in to retrieve their belongings.

When Albano said that Clifford had threatened them, the dispatcher asked if Albano had told the trooper about that. Albano said they had, but repeated that the trooper said it was a civil matter.

“OK, if that’s what he said, then there’s nothing else I can do either,” the dispatcher said.

“So, do you actually have to be physically assaulted before you can do anything?” Albano asked.

“Of course you don’t, ma’am, of course you don’t. But I mean, if this has been handled by the trooper …”

Allen’s shift ended at 4 p.m., so the dispatcher said another trooper would call them.

Less than an hour later, Albano called 911. The call was received by a Lincoln County police dispatcher, who contacted the Regional Communications Center in Augusta to say the female tenant — Albano — was saying her boyfriend “was being choked” and had stabbed a man and run off. Albano “also had a scuffle with the female landlord, and she’s rather upset and needs some help as well,” the Lincoln County dispatcher said.

When Albano was connected with Augusta dispatch, she said Krouse “was being strangled by the landlord” and “pulled the knife out and stabbed him and then ran for the door so he could get away from him.” Albano said she barricaded herself in the bedroom after she got away from the female landlord “because she said she was going to throw me down the steps.”

Albano later adds: “We’ve been calling, literally, you can check the records. We feared for our life because this man is crazy.”

She called back again at 6:21, which appears to be about when police arrived on the scene as well.

CASE REVIEWED

Transcripts of the stabbing were released by state police because of a decision in 2013 by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling that such transcripts are public records.

That ruling came after police and prosecutors denied a Freedom of Access request by the Portland Press Herald for transcripts of 911 calls in the case of a landlord shooting a tenant and his girlfriend on Dec. 29, 2012, in Biddeford. The case drew increased attention because the shooting happened just minutes after Biddeford police left the apartment, and lawsuits have alleged police failed to intervene and instead deemed the dispute a civil matter.

Marchese, of the attorney general’s office, said her department conducted an extensive review of the Pittston stabbing case by analyzing all interviews of people involved and the evidence. The office’s review was focused solely on whether criminal charges should be filed.

“In this case, we reviewed all the reports and concluded he (Krouse) acted in self-defense,” she said.

It’s not that unusual for the attorney general’s office to arrive at such a conclusion, she said. “You do see it from time to time. People do legitimately use self-defense, and we have to make that determination.”

Debora Clifford could not be reached for comment Tuesday. No one answered the door early Tuesday evening at the Moody Mansion in Pittston.

Larry Ireland, who lives across Hanley Road from the house, previously told the Kennebec Journal that Clifford worked “day after day” to renovate the home since buying it a few years ago and called Clifford and his wife, Debora, “first-rate people.”

Told of the attorney general’s office decision to not press charges, Ireland said Tuesday he was “very disappointed.”

“Dale was a really nice guy,” Ireland said. “I think he got a bad deal.”

Ireland said the description by the tenants of how Clifford acted doesn’t mesh with the neighbor he knew.

“They got along with everybody,” Ireland said. “He was a really happy guy, worked really hard. The community’s going to really feel a loss. That type of incident is just not what I feel Dale was like. I feel really badly about it.”