SKOWHEGAN — A Detroit man who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his father in 2011 now says he did not have effective representation at the time, his guilty plea was coerced and he wants a new trial.

Angelo Licata, 36, pleaded guilty in June 2012 to murdering Alfred Licata, 63, whose body was found the night of July 21, 2011, on a lawn near his home on Ham Hill Road in Cambridge.

Licata originally pleaded not guilty to the charge, then changed the plea to guilty.

Memoranda from Assistant Attorney General Donald W. Macomber and Licata’s current attorney, Hunter Tzovarras, are due to Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler in February and March. A decision is expected in late spring, Macomber said.

Macomber said by email Wednesday that Licata seeks to have his conviction overturned and his case go back to trial.

“This would also mean that the 30-year sentence would be gone and he could be subject to any sentence after trial, up to and including life,” Macomber said.


In court in Skowhegan on Tuesday, Licata said that his court-appointed lawyers in 2012, Frank Griffin and Peter Barnett, were ineffective by not fully explaining to him the concepts of self-defense, imperfect self-defense and adequate provocation manslaughter, Macomber said Wednesday. Licata contended in court that he never would have pleaded guilty had he been informed of those options and would have opted for a jury trial.

Licata told the court his guilty plea was coerced because his lawyers told him that he would get life in prison if he did not accept the state’s offer right away, Macomber said.

Tzovarras, of Bangor, did not respond immediately Wednesday to requests for comment, but Macomber said both Griffin and Barnett testified the guilty plea was not coerced. They explained to Licata, based on their review of the evidence, that he probably would be convicted of murder after the trial, and the typical sentence for Somerset County murders was in the 40- to 45-year range.

Macomber said the two also testified that they explained that life was the maximum, but it was not likely he would get that.

“They both testified that it was their best judgment that he accept the plea offer but that the decision was up to him,” Macomber said in an email. “They both testified that he wanted to accept the offer and reaffirmed that a couple of months after the plea and before the sentencing.”

Alfred Licata’s wife, Arlene, told police she heard banging and yelling coming from the first floor of the house the night her husband was killed and found blood all over the kitchen.


She dialed 911 from a neighbor’s house and said she saw her son Angelo’s vehicle in the driveway, according to court documents.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Angelo Licata later turned himself in at the Waterville Police Department.

Licata’s lawyers in 2012 said the guilty plea came after state prosecutors agreed to revise the wording of Licata’s charge. Licata also wanted to settle the matter quickly for the sake of his family, his lawyers said at the time.

Griffin at the time said the defense team negotiated with state prosecutors to strike a key phrase from the charge against Licata. The original charge stated Licata’s actions were “knowing and intentional” and that he acted with “depraved indifference.”

Griffin said he and Barnett successfully argued that a person could not be charged with both, so prosecutors removed “knowing and intentional,” which satisfied Licata.


“This was an act that was not committed intentionally,” Griffin said in 2012. “Angelo did not have any intent. It was not premeditated. It was a heat-of-the-moment issue that went way, way too far.”

Griffin said another reason Licata pleaded guilty was to bring closure to his family.

Griffin, who is now an assistant district attorney for both Somerset and Kennebec counties, did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Barnett also did not return a call left at his Bingham office.

Macomber said Wednesday that Licata accepted a plea offer from then-Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, knowing he would spend the next 30 years in prison.

“Attorney Griffin went over a checklist with him, explaining all the rights and what the plea was all about, and he signed it, initialed it — that was all admitted in the file,” Macomber said. “He was fine with 30 years back then.”

Macomber said once Licata got to prison, someone told him about the other options, including self-defense, that should have been offered to him, so he applied for postconviction review.


Justice John Nivison, who heard the original case, said in 2012 that claims that Licata had suffered physical or sexual abuse by his father would be admissible as testimony if the defense could show that the alleged childhood abuse affected his state of mind during the altercation that led to the father’s death.

Licata changed his plea from not guilty to guilty before the case could go to trial.

Licata was living in a mobile home in 2011 at 24 Main St. in Detroit, according to court records. It is the same home that Ricky Cole occupied when he was bludgeoned to death inside the home by Jason Cote, of Palmyra, in 2013. Cote was found guilty of murder and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 12.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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