AUGUSTA — The son of a man killed in a shootout with police May 19, 2017, in Belgrade was cleared Wednesday of charges related to that incident.

Scott Bubar, 41, of Brunswick was accused of aggravated attempted murder of a police officer and of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. The judge concluded he was not guilty of those charges.

Justice Michaela Murphy, who presided at the nonjury trial, delivered the verdict Wednesday morning in a courtroom at the Capital Judicial Center where about 30 people sat on the benches in the public area.

Prosecutors said Bubar aimed and fired a shotgun at Sgt. Jacob Pierce, a deputy with Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, who had taken cover that night across the road on a neighbor’s property.

The judge said she concluded there was “no DNA evidence connecting Scott Bubar to either of these weapons.” She said it was likely that Roger Bubar was responsible for all the shots fired in and from his Oakland Road trailer that night.

Defense attorneys Scott Hess and Lisa Whittier maintained Scott Bubar never shot the pistol or the shotgun, which were both found near the body of Roger Bubar, 65, in the hallway of the trailer.

In delivering her findings and verdict after eight days of trial spread out over several weeks, Murphy emphasized that Pierce acted properly in returning fire and was focused on protecting the neighbors who lived close by.

“He was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Attorney General’s office, and it is abundantly clear to the court that he acted professionally and in an exemplary manner under incredibly difficult and dangerous circumstances,” she said.

Pierce was the first officer to respond to neighbors’ complaints at 9:43 p.m. of gunshots being fired.

At one point, when discussing the state’s theory that Scott Bubar shot at Pierce, Murphy said, “They are just that, theories. They are not supported by reliable physical, photographic, DNA or other forensic evidence.”

With regard to the theory that Scott Bubar fired the shotgun from inside the trailer at the open front door where his father was standing “makes no common sense” because Roger Bubar’s body showed no evidence of injury from that.

Murphy and the attorneys went to the scene of the shooting and walked through the trailer. Both Roger and Scott Bubar were shot by Pierce.

“The view conducted by the court not only made clear how close the neighbors were to the Bubars, but also how distorted the state’s diagrams are,” Murphy said. “The court is not suggesting these distortions were intended to be misleading, and they were all clearly labeled ‘not to scale.'” She also noted that the photographs by the state “particularly from the ‘pana-vue’ camera, expand widths and distance.”

In a May 25, 2017, interview from his hospital bed, which was played in court during the trial, Scott Bubar told detectives he tried to convince his father to surrender and tried to wrestle the firearms away from him and hide them.

She also discounted the theory that Scott Bubar, who was bleeding from an abdominal gunshot wound, was able to slide the shotgun under the body of his father without leaving any of his own DNA or blood there. Murphy said it was likely Roger Bubar died and fell onto the shotgun.

“Roger Bubar’s feet in this photo (from the crime scene) are no more than six feet away from where the shooter would have stood to fire the shotgun out the window towards Sgt. Pierce,” Murphy said. “The court concludes that it is highly likely that it was in fact Roger Bubar and not the defendant who fired the shot from the first bedroom and that Sgt. Pierce successfully neutralized the threat posed by Roger Bubar when he lawfully killed him.”

She also said that “Scott Bubar’s presence at the scene of that crime is not enough under Maine law to convict him” of the offense of accomplice liability. Scott Bubar did not testify at his trial.

The prosecutors, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh and Assistant District Attorney Alisa Ross had maintained Scott Bubar was an accomplice to Roger Bubar in several of the shots fired.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Whittier said the defense anticipated the not-guilty verdicts.

Co-counsel Hess said, “From the very beginning of this case it’s been clear that there was virtually no physical or forensic evidence that connected Scott Bubar to this crime.”

Bubar, still wearing the dark suit coat, white shirt and dark tie that he had worn throughout the trial, walked out of the courthouse as a free man, along with a half dozen family members, several of whom were crying.

As his attorneys were speaking to the press, Bubar stood next to a relative’s car and lit a cigarette, his first in months. Bubar had been jailed since March 2018.

“I think he’s just overwhelmed,” Hess said. “Before we walked into court and the court announced its verdict, he was potentially facing life in prison.”

Hess said Bubar is “incredibly relieved and at this point has to move on from this.”

After the verdict, Cavanaugh said, “The state disagrees with the judge’s analysis of where the shotgun was fired into the front door, and the state disagrees that Roger, with his intoxication and injuries, was able to fire from the window and simultaneously be in the hallway.” The state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, said toxicology tests on Roger Bubar’s 5-foot, 110-pound body, showed a blood alcohol content of 0.163, or more than twice the driving limit for adults over 21, as well as evidence of clonazepam, cocaine, morphine, ritalin or byprodcuts, and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Cavanaugh also said, “As disappointed as we are with the verdict, we are thankful to have officers like Sgt. Pierce that put themselves on the line and try to keep the community safe during what seems to be the increasing frequency of violent interactions like this.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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