WATERVILLE — A man who previously served time in jail for beating his young stepdaughter and causing her death was arrested on Monday after allegedly showing a firearm at his ex-girlfriend’s house and failing to stop for police while driving.

Erik Hart, 45, allegedly got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend at her house in Winslow and showed a firearm while making suicidal statements, police said. The ex-girlfriend was not related to his previous conviction of manslaughter, police said.

Hart was taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta, where he was being held on $5,000 cash bail.

The Winslow Police Department put out an alert for Waterville officers to be on the lookout for his vehicle, a black Nissan Titan, around 7:30 p.m. Monday, said Deputy Chief Bill Bonney.

Sgt. Brian Gardiner first spotted Hart’s vehicle on West River Road and attempted to stop him, turning on his sirens and lights and even using the public announcement system to tell him to stop, Bonney said. Hart did not stop until he reached his home at 87 Patriots Dr., where he made a wide turn and partially drove on his neighbor’s lawn, Bonney said.

Police checked the area after taking Hart into custody and allegedly found that he had tossed the gun on the neighbor’s lawn when he turned, Bonney said.

Hart was charged with reckless conduct with a firearm for discarding the gun, as the neighbors had small children. The charge is a Class C felony.

He also was charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a Class C felony; operating a vehicle after a suspension, a Class E misdemeanor; and failure to stop for police, a Class E misdemeanor.

Hart was previously arrested and tried for abusing his stepdaughter, 1-year-old Chelsea Taplin, in Wiscasset, according to the Associated Press in a story published Dec. 5, 2000. Hart, then 29, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shaking her and slamming her head on the floor when she wouldn’t stop crying in June 1998. Chelsea died two days later.

An autopsy showed that she suffered more than 20 serious injuries, including broken bones.

Hart was tried in Lincoln County Superior Court. He entered into a plea agreement in return for a 15-year maximum sentence.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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