AUGUSTA — After eight days of testimony, the trial of a man accused of burning down the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop is winding down.

Raymond Bellavance Jr., 50, of Winthrop, has maintained he is innocent of the two arson charges related to the June 3, 2009, fire at the Vassalboro coffee shop, which was housed in the restaurant portion of a former motel.

Justice Michaela Murphy told jurors Wednesday that testimony was drawing to a close and would be followed by closing arguments by both sides. The trial resumes today at 8 a.m. in Kennebec County Superior Court.

The big unknown is whether Bellavance will take the witness stand.

Out of the jury’s earshot, Murphy on Wednesday told Bellavance, “You have a right to testify if that’s what you want to do. This is your decision and your decision alone.”

But, she also warned him, “If you testify, you will be subject to cross examination by the state.”

Bellavance said he would talk to his attorneys Wednesday night about making that decision.

The prosecution and fire investigators allege Bellavance burned it down because he was jealous of a waitress who was working there, on-and-off girlfriend Krista MacIntyre. She was having sex with other men — including the coffee shop owner Donald Crabtree — as well as Bellavance.

Bellavance’s defense team, however, says he is being framed, and they say he left Maine for South Carolina just before a warrant was issued for his arrest so he could better prepare to defend himself.

Defense attorney Andrews Campbell has pointed continually to the timing of the fire, saying the blaze started well before it was reported and while Bellavance was still visiting friends in Augusta.

Campbell has also said other people disliked the controversial coffee shop on Route 3, which attracted national media attention to the small town.

MacIntyre, the waitress, has testified that Bellavance was neither jealous nor possessive of her, and in fact had sexual relationships with other women, including her cousin.

MacIntyre returned to the witness stand Wednesday morning, and the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley, led her through her previous statements to the primary fire investigator, Kenneth MacMaster of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

With regard to having multiple boyfriends, she said, “I never made a commitment to any of them.”

“I wasn’t in a relationship with any of these men,” she told Kelley. “I wasn’t around them all the time.”

MacIntyre testified that she lied in an affidavit March 10, 2009, in which she sought a protection from abuse order against Bellavance a day after he went to her work place and — the prosecution says — tried to get her fired.

“I’m scared for my safety,” MacIntyre wrote in her affidavit, which was read in court by Kelley. “He tells me no one will ever have you; you are mine until I die.”

MacIntyre said she argued frequently with Crabtree, who would then fire her for a few days and then take her back.

She also said she never gave a direct answer when Crabtree asked her to accompany him to a Vassalboro public meeting that took place hours before the fire, which was reported just before 1 a.m.

MacIntyre testified that Jason Lunt, a frequent customer of the coffee shop and a longtime friend of hers, appeared more controlling or possessive, but also feared his wife would find out about him and MacIntyre.

In response to questions, she told Kelley numerous times: “I don’t remember; I really don’t. There’s a lot to remember about this case. I’m trying hard to remember.”

Other witnesses have also said they had trouble recalling events from two and a half years ago.

MacIntyre testified that she remains friends with Bellavance.

Kelley also told her the jail has recordings of seven calls Bellavance made to her from the jail between Dec. 12 and 20 as the trial was either taking place or getting under way.

“He never told me what to say,” MacIntyre said.

Criminal histories

Almost every time a witness has testified in this case, the prosecutor, Kelley, has started his questioning with a rundown of that person’s criminal record.

MacIntyre, for example, admitted she was convicted of forgery, receiving stolen property and theft by deception and theft of services, as well as several counts of theft by unauthorized taking, between 2006 and 2008.

Scott Allen Tibbetts, 38, testified Wednesday that he was in Spartanburg, S.C., with Bellavance in March 2010, when Bellavance talked to him “about being framed.”

In earlier interviews with the state fire investigator, Tibbetts said Bellavance had confessed to him about setting the fire.

On Wednesday, however, Tibbetts recanted that assertion.

“I’m off drugs and alcohol,” Tibbetts testified. “I have a clearer mind.”

He said that before he was interviewed by the state fire investigator, he had been awake continuously for three or four days, withdrawing from using crystal methamphetamine and alcohol.

He said he remembered bits and pieces of what happened when Bellavance was there.

Tibbetts is serving a sentence at the Charleston Correctional Facility in Penobscot County, and has been convicted of gross sexual assault, as well as five counts of negotiating a worthless instrument.

Thomas Mulkern, who was released from jail last week after completing a substance abuse rehabilitation program, was recalled briefly to testify Wednesday.

Mulkern previously said his girlfriend gave him and Bellavance a ride to the coffee shop very early on June 3, 2009, and that Bellavance splashed gasoline on the back of the building and then lit one of two gas cans on fire before both men fled through the woods.

Mulkern was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony at the trial.

A warrant for Bellavance’s arrest on the arson charges was issued April 3, 2010.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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