Dylan Ketcham, left, and defense lawyer Stephen Smith listen to opening arguments by state prosecutors on the first day of the murder and attempted murder trial of Ketcham at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. The trial continued Tuesday for the Gardiner man accused of attacking two former friends, shooting and killing one and nearly severing the wrists of the other with a machete during a 2020 altercation in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — Caleb Trudeau thought he was going to die as Dylan Ketcham, who he’d just seen pull a gun and point it at Jordan Johnson’s head, struck him at least 13 times with a machete.

He pleaded with Ketcham, 23, who he had known since they were in kindergarten and thought of as a brother, to stop. And he tried to block the blows from the 12-inch blade, first with one arm, until it was so badly wounded he couldn’t move it anymore, then his other, until that, too, was cut so badly he could no longer use it.

“He just kept hitting me,” Trudeau said on the stand Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta on the second day of Ketcham’s trial on murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault charges.

Trudeau said he’d gone along with Johnson in the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 2020, to what he thought would be a fist fight between the two former friends, Johnson and Ketcham. He said he planned to try to act as a mediator, of sorts, to make sure neither of them took it too far.

Trudeau said he and Johnson saw Ketcham approaching as they waited near Quimby Field, a ballfield in Gardiner, and he held back, concealed by trees, as Johnson approached Ketcham. He said Ketcham pulled out a gun and aimed it at Johnson’s forehead. Trudeau, fearing Johnson would be shot, rushed past Johnson and tackled Ketcham. They struggled for control of the gun, Trudeau said, and the gun went off twice as they struggled before Trudeau was able to get the pistol away from Ketcham, and it fell into the snow, where police later found it.

Trudeau didn’t know it at the time, but one of the shots fired by the gun struck Johnson in the head, killing the 22-year-old, state prosecutors said.


Trudeau said after the struggle for the gun Ketcham pulled a machete out of a pocket he’d fashioned inside his jacket. Trudeau lunged at Ketcham, until he saw the machete.

“Once I realized what it was, that was when I tried to run away,” Trudeau said. “I ran to the edge of the lawn we were on and fell off the snowbank into the road. I landed face down on my arms and when I looked up I saw (Ketcham) running at me.”

He said Ketcham struck him at least 13 times, hitting him on the neck and head after cutting his arms so badly he couldn’t move them anymore. Ketcham fled and was later discovered by a police canine unit, hiding under a barn.

Trudeau dragged himself to a Lincoln Avenue home to plead for help.

An emergency room doctor, Dr. Amber Michele Richards, testified in court Tuesday that Trudeau’s forearms were cut through the bone, with his hands remaining attached to the rest of his body only by a few pieces of muscle and skin. He was in the hospital, in Boston, for six months.

He continues to have medical treatments and still has limitations on the use of his hands. Three years after the incident, he cannot open his left hand or use his fingers on that hand, and can only use his thumb and two fingers on his right hand, leaving him unable to work at his former job as a lift operator for Pine State Beverage in Gardiner.


Prosecutors said the gun recovered in the snow-covered Quimby Field the day of the shooting was owned by Ketcham’s sister, Alana Ketcham, and he stole it from her and then used it to shoot and kill Johnson.

On the witness stand Tuesday, Alana Ketcham confirmed to prosecutor Meg Elam, an assistant state attorney general, the gun was hers and said only her father, mother and Dylan knew she owned the gun. She said she never bought ammunition for, or fired, the small pistol, which she purchased at a show in Augusta. She bought it for protection, and because it was an antique and she collects antiques.

“I bought it because I was a young woman living alone, and it’s a scary world full of scary people,” she told Elam under questioning. “My brother is not one of them, but they’re out there.”

She said her brother had been at her apartment in Gardiner both a few days before the shooting, watching television, and the night before the shooting, helping her repot some plants.

A statement from Gary Hamilton, owner of Nielson’s Sporting Goods in Farmingdale, read in court Tuesday said Ketcham came into the gun shop on Jan. 23, 2020, and attempted to purchase ammunition, but he was unable to do so because he didn’t have any money. He returned the next day, the day before the shooting, and used his sister’s credit card to purchase a box of .25-caliber ammunition.

Alana Ketcham said her brother was not a thief, but acknowledged he did not have her permission to use the gun, or her credit card. She said she first realized the gun was missing when police asked her about it, after the shooting.


Katy Haskell, of Whitefield, who briefly dated Ketcham, testified that he showed her a machete and also showed her a gun, that he told her he had stolen from his sister, a few days before the shooting.

Ketcham’s attorney, Stephen Smith, asked Haskell if she had ever heard Ketcham threaten Johnson or Trudeau. She said she did not.

Smith said in his opening statements last week Ketcham was defending himself from the two other men in the confrontation.

Kimberly James, a Maine State Police Crime Lab supervisor, testified that a bullet recovered from Johnson’s body was fired from the same gun found in the snow on Quimby Field, the same one police said Ketcham had stolen from his sister and used to kill Johnson.

Catherine MacMillan, a forensic DNA analyst with the Maine State Police Crime Lab, testified that blood found at the ballfield, in the roadway and on the porch the Lincoln Avenue home where Trudeau sought and received help belonged to Trudeau and blood found at another site at the ballfield, and on a hill nearby, belonged to Johnson. Blood found on the lawn along Ketcham’s alleged trail away from the crime scene was Ketcham’s, she said and blood found on the blade of the machete belonged to Trudeau. DNA found on the handle of the machete was a mix, with two contributors, MacMillan testified. She said the major source of DNA on the weapon’s handle was Ketcham, but the minor source of the remaining DNA was too limited so she could not determine the source.

The trial will continue Wednesday.

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