Noah Gaston, the Windham man facing a murder charge for fatally shooting his wife with a shotgun in the stairwell of their home, was ordered held in jail pending a bail hearing in February.

Gaston, 33, made his first court appearance in a brief hearing before Justice Michaela Murphy in Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland on Tuesday. His attorneys are expected to argue at his bail hearing on Feb. 8 that Gaston should be released on bail.

Gaston was arrested Friday in connection with the Jan. 14 shooting of 34-year-old Alicia Gaston at 37 Brookhaven Drive and is being held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Gaston, who called 911 at 6:15 a.m. after the shooting, told police he mistook his wife for an intruder, but police said in an affidavit filed with the court on Monday that Gaston gave inconsistent statements during the interview.

He said little during the hearing, answering the judge only to acknowledge that he understood the murder charge is punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison and up to life in prison if he is convicted.

Gaston was not required to enter a plea, since the case has yet to be presented to a grand jury to seek an indictment.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman, didn’t say when her office intends to present the case to a grand jury, which meets in secret. But Gaston’s attorneys, Luke Rioux and Temma Donahue, said they expect an indictment within a month or two.

Rioux, who said he and Donahue met with their client at the jail Monday and in court before the hearing Tuesday, characterized the shooting as a terrible accident but not a murder.

So far the attorneys said they have only received the affidavit in the case as evidence, but they questioned the timing of events as recalled to police by the couple’s two older children.

In the affidavit, the police rely heavily on blood evidence from the stairwell and an examination of Alicia Gaston’s wounds by the state medical examiner, as well as statements from the couple’s 8- and 9-year-old daughters. The older girl unlocked the door for police and told them she woke up to a loud bang, the affidavit said. The 8-year-old told police she heard their parents arguing before the shooting.

“I think the chronology is very vague from the affidavit we have, and once we get some evidence I think it will show it was a tragedy but not a murder,” Rioux said outside the courtroom after the hearing.

Donahue said Gaston seemed “devastated” about the loss of his wife when he spoke to them.

Donahue also represents Gaston in a District Court custody case, initiated by the state Department of Health and Human Services after Alicia Gaston’s death, to place the couple’s children with maternal family members.

According to the affidavit, written by Maine State Police Detective Ethel Ross, Gaston called 911 about 6:15 a.m. on Jan. 14. He told the dispatcher that he had shot his wife in the stomach and she wasn’t breathing. He said his wife had gotten up “super early” that day and he mistook her for an intruder.

Gaston was giving his wife CPR when police arrived at the home on Brookhaven Drive, just off Route 302.

He told police that he awoke to noises and grabbed his gun, a 12-gauge shotgun. He said it was unloaded and that he loaded a shell before heading downstairs. Gaston said he believed his wife was still upstairs in bed when he saw a figure at the bottom of the stairs and fired.

Gaston first told police that his wife was in the middle of the stairs when he shot her, then later told them she was at the bottom.

“The evidence at the scene is not consistent with Alicia Gaston being at or near the bottom of the stairs when she is shot,” the affidavit reads. “Rather, the evidence shows that she was standing somewhere between the first and second step down from the landing area of the stairs when she was shot.”

Gaston also repeatedly told police that he and his wife had not argued before the shooting, contradicting what the younger daughter told investigators.

“She told me she heard mom and dad arguing in their scared voices,” Ross said of the 8-year-old. “She told me she heard mom fall down the stairs and say ‘ouch’ and start crying.”

The 8-year-old also told Ross that “she saw the gun on the floor in the hallway and smelled what she described as smoke and blood,” the affidavit said.

Both daughters, along with a 2-year-old son, are now staying with Alicia Gaston’s relatives.

No one from the family of Alicia Gaston, who was the sister of a Portland Press Herald photographer, appeared in court on Tuesday. Her family has not responded to requests for comment this week.

Gaston’s mother, Donovan Gaston, and sister, Jill Davis, sat in the back of the courtroom with another attorney from Rioux’s and Donahue’s law firm, but did not speak to reporters as they left the courtroom.

Gaston, dressed in a blue checked button-down shirt and mustard-colored pants, did not appear to acknowledge his mother and sister as he walked past them into the courtroom or as he left the courtroom minutes later.

Noah and Alicia Gaston had lived for several years on Flaggy Meadow Road in Gorham and were house-sitting at the Windham house, according to a neighbor who lived next door to them in Gorham. Neighbors at the apartment complex in Gorham said Alicia Gaston home-schooled their children.

An online resume posted by Noah Gaston said he recently worked at the New Morning Natural Foods market and cafe in Biddeford and had previously been executive chef of the 91 South restaurant at the PineCrest Inn in Gorham.

The family was said to be active at church and drew friends from the congregation. Facebook pictures showed the couple hiking in New Hampshire and happily embracing their children.


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