Dylan Ketcham, 23, left, listens as the head juror announces he has been found guilty of murder, attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault Friday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. A 12-person jury began deliberating the case Thursday afternoon. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A jury found Dylan Ketcham guilty of murder, attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault charges in the shooting death of Jordan Johnson and life-threatening machete attack on Caleb Trudeau.

A jury reached the verdict Friday, the fifth day of the trial at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Testimony wrapped up with closing arguments Thursday.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin points to her forehead, demonstrating where Dylan Ketcham aimed a gun at Jordan Johnson during closing arguments in Ketcham’s murder trial Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Jurors found Ketcham guilty of all three counts against him, after several hours of deliberations. He faces between 25 years and life in prison.

“The surviving victim and the victim’s family are primarily relieved right now, after the long wait to get to a just result,” prosecutor Meg Elam, an assistant state attorney general, said following the verdict. “I think this will give them some measure of peace. But of course it will never change the amazing loss they have both suffered. When Dylan Ketcham was convicted of the murder of Jordan Johnson and the attempted murder of Caleb Trudeau, and also the elevated aggravated assault against Caleb Trudeau, we believe the jury did the right thing and justice has been served.”

Family members of the victims, who were in court for the duration of the trial, declined to speak to the press after the trial.

Stephen Smith, defense attorney for Ketcham, with Ian L’Heureux, said they believed deeply in Ketcham’s innocence and plan to appeal the case.


“This was a terrible, tragic and, frankly, stupid situation, amongst young men with poor judgement, but in our view it absolutely was not murder,” Smith said after the verdict. “We believe it’s not murder. And we will appeal.”

Ketcham will continue to be held in jail without bail until sentencing, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy said.

The 23-year-old hung his head, looking down at the courtroom table in front of him, after the jury’s verdict was announced.

Ketcham, of Gardiner, was charged with murder for fatally shooting Johnson, also of Gardiner, in the head in a violent confrontation near Quimby Field ballfields and in a Lincoln Avenue neighborhood of the city in January 2020.

He was also charged with attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault for, in that same incident, attacking Trudeau with a machete, nearly severing both his wrists and cutting his skull to the bone. Trudeau, also of Gardiner, had been a close friend of Ketcham’s since they were in kindergarten.

Sentencing is expected to take place in about a month.


Elam said prosecutors would consider, with the families of the victims, what to recommend for a sentence of Ketcham.

“But given the brutality of the crime that was committed, and the multiple victims, we expect the sentence to be a very strong one,” she said.

Elam and fellow state prosecutor Leanne Robbin said Ketcham prepared, for days, to kill Johnson, stealing his sister’s pistol and using her credit card without her knowledge to buy ammunition at a Farmingdale sporting goods store, and adding a hidden makeshift pocket inside his coat in which he concealed a machete with a 12-inch blade. He also duct-taped the treads of his boots, which they said was meant to prevent his trail from being followed from the crime scene. Johnson had argued with Ketcham and they arranged to meet in the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 2020. Johnson and Trudeau were not armed and were expecting a fist fight between Johnson and Ketcham, according to the prosecutors.

After the verdict, Elam said that going into the trial, prosecutors felt the evidence of premeditation by Ketcham was strong. Gathering weapons, taking steps to conceal his identity, “and finally trying to kill the one eyewitness to the murder — we thought that would speak volumes to the jury,” she said.

Ketcham came armed with the gun and machete to the early-morning confrontation. Prosecutors said Ketcham pulled out the pistol, aimed it at Jordan’s forehead and fired two shots, one of them striking Johnson in the head, causing him to die. And then, after struggling with Trudeau, the only witness to the shooting, over control of the gun, Ketcham using the machete he’d hidden inside his coat to strike and cut Trudeau, injuring him so severely he still has not regained full use of either of his hands.


Dylan Ketcham, 23, left, stands with defense attorney Stephen Smith before the verdict in his murder trial is announced Friday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. A jury found the Gardiner man guilty of murder, attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Smith and L’Heureux said Ketcham acted in self defense. They said he knew Johnson was angry at him for allegedly stealing a bike from his mother. So he armed himself because he was in fear for his safety. They said he was outnumbered and ambushed by Johnson and Trudeau, who they said planned to beat and rob him. In messages Ketcham did not see, Johnson and Trudeau cited rap lyrics referenced having “murder on my mind,” the night before the confrontation, Smith said.

Smith said after the trial the messages between Johnson and Trudeau indicated “there was clearly a plan, in our view, to ambush our client.”

Smith said the gunshots took place while Ketcham and Trudeau fought for control of the gun, and that Trudeau had provoked the attack by running at and tackling Ketcham. He said Ketcham initially tried to run away from Trudeau, but was caught by him. He said Ketcham’s actions against the pair were justified because he was defending himself, and trying to prevent Trudeau from gaining control of the weapons.

The trial took place off and on over two weeks, with two cancelled trial days due to snowstorms and another plagued by technical problems with the courthouse video and testimony recording system. It was the second jury to be seated to hear the trial, after the first trial was declared a mistrial.

“We’re very grateful for the jury’s verdict,” Elam said. “We believed all along that it was the right verdict. We’re especially pleased for the families of the victims in this case who have suffered so long because of the brutal crime that was committed by Mr. Ketcham.”

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