A judge unexpectedly sent the jury home on the second day of an ongoing murder trial in Cumberland County.

Alicia Gaston

Noah Gaston, 36, is charged with murder and manslaughter for the fatal shooting of his wife three years ago. His trial began Monday, and testimony was scheduled to continue Tuesday morning. But the attorneys instead spent more than two hours huddled in a conference room or in the judge’s chambers.

Then, shortly after 11 a.m., Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy postponed the day’s testimony.

“An issue arose this morning that was not foreseen by either side in this case,” Murphy said. “It is not the fault of anyone.”

Murphy said the attorneys needed more time to resolve the issue, so she wanted to release the jurors for the day.

The judge did not describe the dispute, and both sides declined to comment as they filed out of the courtroom.

“I want to emphasize that this is not something that I am putting at the feet of anybody or is anyone’s fault,” the judge said. “But I do want to give the attorneys the appropriate amount of time to try to resolve the issue with the court, and we will be spending the rest of the day doing just that.”

Murphy also warned the jury that inclement weather might cause a late start or cancellation of court on Wednesday. She asked them to call the court later for an update on when they need to return.

The jury, including four alternates, is made up of eight women and eight men.

Alicia Gaston, 34, died from a single shot from a shotgun in the stairwell of her family’s Windham home. Her husband has said he believed she was an intruder when he fired on Jan. 14, 2016. But police pointed to inconsistencies in Gaston’s story from the start, and he was arrested shortly after the shooting.

Gaston pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and manslaughter. He has been held at the Cumberland County Jail without bail, and his trial began Monday in Portland.

Gaston appeared in the courtroom only briefly Tuesday during the judge’s announcement.

Because he immediately admitted to shooting his wife, legal experts said a central issue for jurors will be his state of mind and whether he knew what he was doing that early winter morning.

The first day of testimony was an emotional one. Gaston wept during opening statements and when a recording of the 911 call he made that morning was played. Most of the witnesses called were police officers and parademics who responded to the house on Brookhaven Drive. They answered questions about lighting inside and outside the house, as well as Gaston’s initial statements and demeanor.

Windham police Officer Joseph Hudnor described him as “in shock.”

“When he entered the room, he had no emotion on his face, just a blank look,” Hudnor said.

 

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