AUGUSTA — A jury found a paver from Albion not guilty of aggravated assault, but guilty of the lesser charge of assault, stemming from an altercation with a co-worker on a paving crew in Chelsea in 2017.

Stephen T. Bard, 45, hit David Buzzell Jr., a Gardiner man with whom he worked on a State Paving Inc. crew, in an Oct. 20, 2017, confrontation that grew out of an argument about how much water Bard was using while operating a pavement roller.

The violent encounter between the two left Buzzell, whose job included raking hot top and refilling water tanks, with three broken bones in his face that required reconstructive surgery. Buzzell said in court that he also sustained a concussion that continues to give him problems with his memory.

On Monday, following two days of testimony last week, jurors came back with a verdict finding Bard guilty of assault, but not guilty of the more serious charge of aggravated assault. The latter charge could have come with a sentence of up to 10 years.

Under Maine law, an assault charge is punishable by up to one year in jail.

Bard is expected to be sentenced next month. He remains free on personal recognizance bail, with conditions he have no contact with Buzzell.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour Monday and about two hours Friday. After the verdict was read Monday morning, Bard’s attorney, Brad Grant, said they respected the decision of the jury.

However, Bard said, “I still don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”

He acknowledged on the stand he did hit Buzzell multiple times but said he did so because he believes Buzzell “slung” dangerously hot asphalt onto him, which he said landed on his neck and in his hair. Bard characterized the incident as just two men fighting.

Buzzell said in court he didn’t sling asphalt at Bard, and when he went to talk to him about the amount of water Bard was using while they paved Hallowell Road in Chelsea, Bard hit him, knocking him down. Buzzell said Bard hit him so hard he doesn’t remember too much about what happened after that. His fiancé, Amy Dyer, said he called her on his cell phone after the incident, and he didn’t sound like himself and asked her to come pick him up. When Dyer got to the job site, she said he looked pale and sickly and his face was red and puffy. She thought he had been hit by a piece of machinery.

“I asked, did machinery hit you, what hit you?” Dyer testified. “He said, ‘A man. A man hit me.'”

He went to the emergency room the next day and reported the incident to police two days after the attack. He couldn’t eat solid foods for more than a month and couldn’t return to work until June 2018 as he continued to suffer symptoms — including memory loss — from what a doctor told him was post-concussion syndrome.

In his closing argument Friday, Grant argued that an aggravated assault charge requires a finding, beyond reasonable doubt, that an assault created a substantial risk of death or extended convalescence for recovery of physical health. He said this did not occur in this case and also that Bard acted in self defense and was afraid, in part, because Buzzell had been in the Army where he was trained in combat.

Prosecutor Tracy McCarthy said in closing arguments that what Bard did was well beyond self-defense, and a doctor who treated Buzzell testified in court that concussions can create a substantial risk of death.

 

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]
Twitter: @kedwardskj

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