AUGUSTA — Derrick Dupont, who shot James Haskell eight times in a 2017 early morning altercation in West Gardiner, killing him, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a manslaughter charge Monday.

Dupont, 28, of Whitefield, said in court Monday he feared for his life and for the lives of others in his family’s West Gardiner home when he shot Haskell. Haskell, who had been asked to and did leave the home earlier in the evening, later returned to the porch, pounding and thrashing at the door. Haskell also allegedly told the occupants he would cut them and said he wasn’t afraid to go back to prison.

“I feared for my life and everyone else’s that night,” Dupont said Monday after standing to address the court. “I’m sorry the Haskell family lost someone. I wish that night had turned out differently.”

Testimony indicated Dupont told police Haskell, 41, of Chelsea, had been acting as if he were on drugs and kept reaching into his pants as if he may have had a gun or knife there. No weapon was found on Haskell.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said Haskell never actually threatened anyone. He said Dupont’s decision to load his gun and go outside his home to confront Haskell — and ultimately to shoot him eight times — was unreasonable and a stupid, drunken decision that ended in death. Alsop argued that Dupont’s actions were not of someone acting on a sudden fear to eliminate a risk to life but rather of someone who tactically sought to kill Haskell by shooting him eight times.

“It’s about as close to murder as one can get,” Alsop said of the crime.


Dupont was originally charged with murder, but in a plea agreement, that charge was dismissed after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Justice William Stokes said he believes Dupont genuinely felt fear of Haskell on the early hours of June 17, 2017. But his fear, which Stokes said was also likely mixed with anger, didn’t justify the use of deadly force — especially with the eighth and final gunshot that Dupont fired into Haskell’s temple after he was already lying down on the porch floor.

“I think you made some bad judgments that night; it didn’t have to be a situation where a fatality occurred,” Stokes said, noting Dupont should have called 911 for help but didn’t. “Derrick immediately goes to the gun option. He leaves his house to confront James. He’s now put himself in a situation where, at 3 a.m., in the dark, in the rain, that it’s highly likely he’s going to use that gun.

“When he reaches the steps to the deck and James is at the door, no one knows, other than (Dupont), whether James pulled back or had his hand in his pocket. But Derrick had pretty much gone past the point of no return when he left the home with that gun,” Stokes added. “Then there was the coup de grace, the final shot, which was unnecessary and that was essentially done to eliminate James. ”

Scott Hess, who with fellow attorney Pamela Ames represented Dupont in the case, said that eighth shot is when the incident became manslaughter.

He said, in arguing for a sentence of less than four years, Dupont’s fear of Haskell — who had a lengthy criminal record including gross sexual assault, burglary and reckless conduct — was legitimate.


Hess said Dupont cooperated fully with police from the beginning of their investigation and was not drunk, as he had only consumed a pint of vodka over the course of the night. Further, he said, Dupont had been warned by Haskell’s girlfriend that he had cut people before and had only recently gotten out of prison. Hess also noted that an agitated Haskell, who had been asked by Dupont to leave the 9 Yeaton Drive home earlier in the evening, which he did only to return about 20 minutes later, was “unquestionably a trespasser.” Also, Hess said, Haskell had yelled through the door he was pounding on that he didn’t care if he went back to prison.

He said a witness who was there that night, Bradley Drisko, told police Haskell was thrashing the door so hard it was shaking the whole trailer and that he was going to come after them. Further, Drisko said that he and Haskell’s girlfriend were scared and didn’t want to answer the door, and “that’s when Derrick did something about it.”

“Mr. Haskell, it appears, is trying to break into the house, and more than enough information has been provided to Derrick to leave a reasonable person gravely concerned about what’s going to happen,” Hess said. “Derrick has accepted responsibility. This is a case that could have gone to trial, but Derrick said, ‘I’m going to plead guilty and accept responsibility for what I’ve done.'”

He added that Dupont’s criminal record consists only of charges of operating under the influence, disorderly conduct and violating conditions of release, and the longest sentence he’s ever served was 48 hours in jail.

Chelsea Haskell, who is married to James Haskell’s brother Bryden Haskell, of Gardiner, testified the morning of the incident was a normal morning that quickly turned into a nightmare. She said the family had heard someone had been shot at a residence about five miles from their home but had no idea it was someone they knew and loved. She got a call from Haskell’s stepmother, Allison Haskell, who asked if she’d seen James and who said friends had posted things like “rest in peace” on James Haskell’s Facebook page.

She said the look in Bryden’s eyes when she had to tell him his big brother was gone forever still haunts her. They rushed to Yeaton Drive and saw the driveway lined with police cars.


“Eventually, two detectives came out, walked me out to the car and informed us James had been shot and was deceased,” Chelsea Haskell said. “That moment, we knew a piece of our lives and our hearts died there, too. No matter what sentence you see fit, it will never amount to the life sentence we’re serving without James.”

Alsop showed a short presentation of candid photographs of Haskell spending time laughing with family members, including children, prompting members of his family in the courtroom to both laugh and cry at their memories of time spent with him.

Several members of Dupont’s family also attended the court session. None testified, but Stokes said several of them had submitted letters to the court in support of Dupont.

The justice expressed sympathy to both families whose lives have been altered by the crime. Stokes said Haskell may have had his ups and downs in life, but he was still a relatively young man whose loss will be felt by his family forever. He said Dupont has strong prospects to be rehabilitated and lead a productive life after he is released.

He sentenced Dupont to 15 years in prison, with all but 10 years suspended, and four years probation.

Manslaughter is punishable by a sentence of up to 30 years.

Dupont pleaded guilty to manslaughter in March after state prosecutors agreed to dismiss the murder charge. The plea agreement did not specify a sentence, which was left up to Stokes to decide.

Haskell died of gunshot wounds to the head, neck and abdomen, according to the state medical examiner’s office. He was dead when police arrived at the scene, according to Steve McCausland, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

A number of people had been at the home before the shooting, and they were interviewed as part of the police investigation. Alsop and Stokes said many of their accounts of the events were different and said everyone at the residence was drinking alcohol.

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