AUGUSTA — Under close questioning today by prosecutor Alan Kelley, Raymond Bellavance Jr. maintained that he did not start the fire that burned down the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro.


Bellavance testified that on the morning of the fire, June 3, 2009, he and three other people were en route about 5 a.m to plant marijuana plants along a road off Route 3 when their van had a flat tire.


He said he and one man hiked to his aunt’s home on Dam Pond Road to get help to obtain a four-way tire iron to loosen a stuck lug nut.


Bellavance, 50, of Winthrop, is on trial in Kennebec County Superior Court on two charges of arson involving that blaze, which forced seven people to flee the building.


The jury trial is in its ninth day and the judge indicated shortly after noon that closing arguments might be held early Friday.


Bellavance said he was not jealous or possessive of waitress Krista MacIntyre’s relationship with other men, including coffee shop owner Donald Crabtree. The prosecution claims such jealousy led to the arson.


Bellavance said MacIntyre and he were “friends with benefits,” and defined that as hanging out together and having occasional, casual sex.


“I have no motive to do this fire,” Bellavance said. “Somebody’s going to burn down someone else’s building over jealousy? That’s a little outrageous, I think.”


Bellavance spent almost four hours on the witness stand, his tone confident, and “blunt,” a term he used to characterize himself.


He said he fled Maine and traveled to New Hampshire after learning in early April 2010 that he was to be arrested and charged with the arson.


“I was scared to death,” Bellavance said.



He was arrested in South Carolina several weeks later and brought back to Maine.

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