AUGUSTA — Maine’s chief medical examiner gave testimony behind closed doors Thursday to attorneys involved in the case of a Winslow man charged with murder.

The examiner, Margaret Greenwald, was deposed by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, the state’s prosecutor, and Pamela Ames, an attorney for Matthew Partridge, 30, charged with shooting Justin V. Smith, 26, of South China, in December outside You Know Who’s Pub in Waterville.

Partridge’s trial is set to begin Aug. 12 and run through Aug. 16, said Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy. Jury selection would begin Aug. 9 if Partridge doesn’t waive his right to a jury trial. He has until Aug. 1 to do that and he hasn’t decided what he will do, Ames said.

On Thursday afternoon, a Kennebec Journal reporter was the only one asked to leave the courtroom before Greenwald’s deposition, while family members of Smith and Partridge were allowed to remain in the courtroom by the invitation and agreement of the attorneys, Benson and Ames said.

Depositions are not public proceedings, they are forums for witnesses to give out-of-court testimony used in the discovery process, initiated and supervised by the defense and prosecuting attorneys and a court reporter is typically present.

“There is concern that any pre-trial publicity could affect the ability to pick a fair and impartial jury,” Benson said.

For scheduling reasons, Murphy said Greenwald will likely not be able to appear at the trial, so parties were gathering her testimony ahead of time.

Benson said Greenwald was “going to talk about what medical examiners always talk about” — presumably, the cause of Smith’s death.

According to an affidavit, Greenwald told Maine State Police Detective Sgt. Jason Richards in December that Smith died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Murphy also wasn’t in attendance during the deposition and wasn’t privy to the details of Greenwald’s testimony. She said the attorneys asked to use a courtroom out of convenience and because court security officers would be at their disposal.

“As far as the court’s concerned, this is not publicly accessible information,” Murphy said.

But if Partridge waives his right to a jury trial, the information will become public, she said, as the reason the deposition wasn’t public was concern over selecting an impartial jury. If he opts to have a jury trial, Greenwald’s Tuesday testimony will come out then.

Partridge is accused of shooting Smith in the face with a Sig Sauer handgun around 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 after a brief altercation between two groups of men. He has pleaded not guilty and said he shot Smith in self-defense.

By all accounts of the incident from eyewitnesses, including Partridge, it began with an initial altercation outside the pub on The Concourse in Waterville. Partridge and a friend left and returned in Partridge’s truck.

Ames, Partridge’s attorney, has said Partridge was trying to drive away from the scene and Smith blocked the way while Partridge was in his truck. Smith punched him so hard he thought he had a broken nose and only then did he shoot Smith, she has said.

Partridge fled the scene, getting pulled over approximately 20 minutes later by a state trooper in Smithfield to whom Partridge confessed shooting Smith in self-defense, records show.

In December, Partridge’s mother, Diana Michaud of Winslow, told the Morning Sentinel that Partridge obtained a concealed-handgun permit a few months before the killing, as the family often goes camping and keeps guns for use in case of bears.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632
[email protected]

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