AUGUSTA — Jeremy Clement took the witness stand Tuesday in his trial for attempted murder, at times getting choked up when saying he never wanted to hurt his ex-girlfriend and maintaining that when he was hit from behind by a baseball bat, the gun he meant to kill himself with discharged, wounding Jasmine Caret.

His testimony described a relationship plagued by alcohol addiction that cost him his children, plunged him into depression, and led him to consider suicide.

Clement, 36, of Fairfield, is charged with attempted murder, burglary, elevated aggravated assault, assault and possession of a firearm on April 19, 2017, the date police say he drove a four-wheeler to the Caret house in Oakland, kicked in the door, got into an altercation with Roseanna Caret after asking to talk to her daughter, Jasmine Caret, then shot Jasmine Caret in the shoulder. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2017.

Taking the stand Tuesday afternoon, Clement described how both he and Jasmine Caret suffered from alcohol addiction, which ruined their relationship. Clement has three children, including a 5-year-old son with Caret. He said he had to call the Department of Health and Human Services because of how much Caret was drinking. He said DHHS looked into his addiction issues, and took his children away from him about a week before the shooting.

“All I wanted to be was a good father,” Clement said.

After his children were taken away, Clement said he fell into a deep depression. In addition to drinking, he began to think about committing suicide.

Clement’s relationship with Caret had been “great” to begin with, he said. They had met when he was 16, had been dating for about six years, and had been living together. However, he said he had to take a leave of absence from work because things were falling apart with his family.

On April 19 before the shooting, Clement said he saw Jasmine Caret once after he called her what he estimated to be 40 times that day. He wanted to sit down with Caret and talk about their son. He met her on the side of the road on Route 201 and asked about his son. He had a hearing the following day regarding his son and was “crushed” at the thought of losing his children.

He had started drinking around 11 a.m. that day and drank about half a bottle of vodka by the time he went to the Caret house, he said, but maintained that at no point did he threaten Jasmine Caret over the phone.

Earlier in the day he had been replacing a sliding glass door at his Norridgewock home with a friend, when he decided he wanted to “put the plan in action” and commit suicide. He took the gun that was later used in Oakland, put it to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed, and he said he “didn’t have the guts” to try it again.

When a Fairfield police officer came to check on him at the request of Caret, he said he told police he was not feeling suicidal that day. He told the jury he didn’t want to get put into a “jam” since he had a DHHS hearing about his son the next day, so he “shooed” them away.

“I told them I wasn’t (depressed),” he said. “I lied.”

At about this point Clement said he decided to take his four-wheeler over to the Caret house.

“I was planning to commit suicide and have her watch it,” he said. When asked why he wanted Jasmine Caret to watch him shoot himself, Clement responded, “I don’t know, I don’t know.”

The defense and the state have portrayed two different versions of what transpired once Clement made it to the Caret house, the biggest difference being who acted aggressively first. State’s attorney Michael Madigan says Clement shot Jasmine Caret, at which point her mother Roseanna hit him with a baseball bat. Defense attorney Walter McKee maintains Clement’s intent was to kill himself and not harm Jasmine Caret on the day he went to the Caret household and that Roseanna Caret hit Clement with the baseball bat before the gun went off.

On the stand Clement testified that when he went to the Caret house, he used his foot to open the breezeway door and tried to talk to Jasmine Clement. She wouldn’t tell him anything about his son, he said, and he took out his pistol to bring it to his head.

At this point, he said, he couldn’t directly see Jasmine. He was holding the gun high in the air to keep it away from Jasmine. As he was bringing it down, he said he was struck on the back of the head. The gun went off, and the next thing he knew he was being Tasered by police.

“I was telling (hospital workers) that I didn’t mean for this to happen and it was supposed to be me,” he said.

Madigan, in his cross examination, called into question Clement’s story. He asked why he had never mentioned in earlier interviews that he had actually attempted suicide that day. He had spoken to police officers, attorneys, hospital workers and others, but did not mention it. Likewise, he said Clement was saying how he never wanted to hurt Jasmine Caret. But at no point at the hospital did he ask how Caret was doing after being shot, nor in separate police interviews did he ask about Caret.

“They never would have told me,” Clement said of hospital staff. “At that point I’m concerned about myself.”

Madigan asked Clement about his anger that day. His home had been damaged, chairs and a shade for the sliding door had been broken. Clement said some of that had happened before that day. He didn’t consider himself mad, but said there was “no processing any of my feelings.”

Madigan asked why Clement took the gun and extra ammunition to the Caret home if he didn’t want to hurt Jasmine. The two sparred over how Clement got into the house. At first Clement said he had kicked open the door, but later he said he didn’t knock Roseanna Caret down because he had opened the door gently. When he walked in, he said he addressed Jasmine Caret briefly, then turned to face a closet with Jasmine out of sight just to his right. He brought out the gun, slid the chamber back with the gun high in the air, and brought the gun down with the intent to shoot himself. That’s when he was hit in the back of the head, he said.

“But she’s the one that got shot,” Madigan said.

“She’s the one that got shot, yeah,” Clement said.

Madigan said Clement’s claim about how he was holding the gun didn’t add up because of the entry and exit wound in Jasmine Caret’s shoulder. She was crouched lower to the ground. In her testimony the previous day, Jasmine Caret had said Clement was holding her down. Clement denied that.

Earlier in the day, McKee called Julie Hoogeveen, a physician’s assistant employed by MaineGeneral Medical Center at the hospital where Clement came in to be treated for the laceration on his head. As part of due diligence, she said, when a patient comes in, medical information about them is collected, such as their medical backgrounds and current symptoms. Part of that involves screening for “suicidality,” Hoogeveen told McKee.

“It’s important because we have to assess the risk, and also we have to decide how complex the workup needs to be,” she said.

Hoogeveen said Clement did express a desire to commit suicide, saying he had said he planned to kill himself in front of his partner. She read from the medical report in which Clement said “I wanted her to see me do it.” She said Clement did not say he wanted to hurt anyone else when he was at the hospital.

Before the lunch break, McKee called Maine State Police Det. Jonathan Heimbach to the stand and questioned him about the testimony of Roseanna and May Caret, Jasmine’s mother and grandmother. McKee asked Heimbach about interviews he conducted with Roseanna and May. He asked Heimbach about the timeline of events May Caret had outlined, and Heimbach said May Caret had said Roseanna Caret hit Clement with the baseball bat before the gun went off. She also had stated Clement had fired the gun three times, including once at Roseanna. Roseanna Caret had said earlier that the gun was fired three times. However, it was concluded the gun was fired once.

Before lunch, McKee made a motion to acquit Clement of the charges against him. Justice Bill Stokes denied it.

Tuesday’s proceedings followed an emotional first day of the trial, when the three Carets testified. At several points, Jasmine Caret sobbed and nearly became ill, especially after she was shown the bloody shirt she was wearing when Clement allegedly shot her. Jasmine Caret explained on Monday that she no longer has the full use of her right hand because of the shooting and also suffered a collapsed lung.

Before the trial resumed Tuesday, one juror said she had seen media coverage of the case. However, after a meeting with Stokes, Madigan and McKee, the juror was allowed to remain.

Shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday, Stokes said there would be no more evidence introduced. He dismissed the jury for the day, saying court would reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday to hear closing arguments and for the jury to begin deliberating.

He reminded jurors not to talk to each other or anyone else about the case and to avoid any media coverage.

“You’re the judges of the facts,” Stokes said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

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Twitter: @colinoellis

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