SKOWHEGAN — A retired Augusta police officer and Persian Gulf War combat veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps was cleared this week of felony threatening charges stemming from an August 2013 confrontation at a remote bear-baiting site in Somerset County.

John Lozinski, 47, of Sidney, had been indicted by a Somerset County grand jury in 2014 on a charge criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Lozinski, holding a pistol, confronted two men who he thought were illegally hunting bear and had threatened him at the Mayfield Township site, his lawyer, Darrick Banda, said Wednesday.

The men, David Henry, 67, of Rome, and Ronald Keith, 48, of Massachusetts, said Lozinski pointed a gun at Henry’s head and told him, “I’m your worst nightmare.”

Lozinski was found not guilty of the charge by a jury during a two-day trial this week in Somerset County Superior Court.

Banda said the jury believed Lozinski had acted in self-defense and “that the use of force was lawful.”

Both Henry and Keith, who were not charged after the confrontation, were facing possible hunting violations, and they asserted their Fifth Amendment right not to testify so as to not implicate themselves, according to Skowhegan attorney John Martin, who assisted them in the case.

Banda said the saga started when Woody’s Guide Service, a local outfit owned by Dan Wood, located a bear-baiting site in the area of Crockett Ridge in Mayfield on land owned by the Plum Creek paper company. The site had not been legally leased or licensed, so Wood signed up for legal use of the area for clients of his guide service.

Wood reported to the Maine Warden Service that he was confronted by Henry and Keith at his business office. They told Wood the bait site was theirs and they’d been using it for years.

After the encounter, Banda said, Wood returned to the bait site and found that the place had been stripped clean. But a game camera remained, capturing the two taking things from the bait site, Banda said.

On opening day in 2013, Banda said, Wood was hesitant about placing a paying client at the bait site because of the confrontation and offered it to Lozinski, whom he knew, and who was hoping for his hunting grand slam — a turkey, a moose, a deer and a bear in one year.

“He didn’t want to put someone from out of state who paid a lot of money, so they allowed (Lozinski) to hunt the site on opening day,” Banda said.

Monitoring the site from a tree stand, Lozinski testified in the trial that he heard people arriving and texted Wood about a potential problem. Lozinski got down from the tree stand, saw Henry, and exchanged words with him, according to Banda.

“Henry makes some furtive movements with his hands as if he’s reaching for something and John says to him, ‘Show me your hands,'” Banda said. “The guy doesn’t listen, so John draws his pistol, points at him and says, ‘Show me your hands.’ In the meantime, the second guy, Ronald Keith, is coming out of the woods and he’s armed with a crossbow, so John backs off and tells them game wardens are on their way.”

Banda said Henry and Keith jumped into their truck and drove off.

Henry and Keith, in victim statements, said Lozinski was aggressive toward them, pointing the pistol at Henry’s temple and saying, “I’m your worst nightmare.”

Martin was asked by Justice Robert Mullen, who presided over the case, to assist Henry and Keith, who both were facing possible hunting violations. He said he assisted the men in their Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent so they would not implicate themselves in any illegal activity during their testimony.

The men were not charged with any offenses related to the August 2013 incident, Martin said.

Assistant District Attorney Joelle Pratt prosecuted the case for the state. The jury returned its not guilty verdict after deliberating for about three hours.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Henry, who was the named victim in the charge against Lozinski, was not armed when the confrontation with Lozinski happened, but said she will abide by the jury’s verdict.

“I do not believe it was reasonable for the victim to have a loaded gun pointed at his head,” Maloney said. “The victim did not have a weapon. But I respect the decision of the jury and their careful three-hour deliberation.”

Eight months after the incident, Lozinski was charged and later indicted by a Somerset County grand jury with a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

“We had a self-defense claim where it was the lawful use of nondeadly force,” Banda said. “John was justified in using a degree of nondeadly force, that is, pointing his pistol to make sure the guy was unarmed.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter: @Doug_Harlow