Jury deliberations will stretch into a third day in the trial of a Windham man who shot and killed his wife nearly four years ago.

Noah Gaston leaves the courtroom Wednesday after closing arguments by Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam and Gaston’s attorney Jim Andrews. Jurors spent Thursday deliberating but did not reach a verdict.  Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Noah Gaston, 37, is charged with murder and manslaughter. He did not appear in the courtroom Thursday. The attorneys for both sides stood before the judge briefly Thursday afternoon when she dismissed the jurors for the day.

“We will give you all the time you need,” Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy told the jury.

The defense argued Gaston was acting in self-defense because he believed his wife was an intruder in the predawn darkness of their home. The state said he intended to kill Alicia Gaston, or he at least knew he was firing at his 34-year-old wife.

The jury – eight men and four women – spent five days listening to evidence in the case. They visited the Gastons’ home on Brookhaven Drive in Windham, and they watched reenactments of the shooting on a full-size model staircase built for the courtroom. They deliberated for four hours Wednesday and more than six more hours Thursday.

The jurors sent a note to the judge Thursday afternoon asking to review the actual shotgun, which was an exhibit in the trial. They also asked to return to the courtroom to examine the staircase and a replica of the shotgun. Exhibits are typically available to the jurors while they deliberate in a private room, but the staircase was too big and unwieldy to move.

Murphy granted both requests.

“This is an unusual situation, but we really do need to respect the sanctity of the jury’s deliberating process,” Murphy said.

Alicia Gaston Press Herald file photo

Everyone – attorneys, media, observers, court officers – emptied the courtroom so jurors could view the staircase alone. They spent roughly 30 minutes there and then returned to the deliberation room. They also were allowed to remove the shotgun from its box in the presence of a court officer; the gun had been secured and did not have any ammunition in it.

About 30 minutes later, the foreman sent another note asking to end deliberations for the day. Observers, family members and media members milled about the courtroom or sat in the nearby hallway all day waiting for the verdict that did not come.

“You’ve been here working hard all day,” Murphy told the jury.

Noah Gaston did not testify at the trial, but he never disputed that he shot his wife on Jan. 14. 2016. The question for the jurors is whether he committed a crime, and the attorneys reiterated their arguments Wednesday during closing statements.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said Gaston was not acting in self-defense because he knew he was firing at his wife.

The state called witnesses who testified about mounting financial stress in the Gaston home, and Alicia Gaston’s sister said the young mother told her they would not be together if they believed in divorce.

“Alicia Gaston should not have died because of the selfish, lethal and unreasonable behavior of the defendant,” Elam said. “She bled to death on the floor of her own home, at the hands of a man who at a minimum didn’t bother to turn his head or extend his hand to see if she was in bed, but almost certainly knew that she was out of bed when she was walking up the staircase.”

Defense attorney Rob Andrews said the investigators were predisposed to dismiss Gaston’s version of events.

He said Gaston was only acting to defend his family from a perceived threat, and he asked the jurors to consider how they would act in similar circumstances.

“If you wake up in the early morning hours in your home, hearing noises that you believe are someone else downstairs and they don’t belong there, and you think that your wife is next to you in bed, and your son is next to you, and you get up and you investigate, and you find out, ‘Hey, I have something to be worried about here,’ is it a gross deviation to go arm yourself?” Andrews said. “Certainly not, certainly not.”

The jury will return Friday morning to resume deliberations.

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