AUGUSTA — A Waterville man accused of randomly shooting another Waterville man in the eye with a BB gun pleaded guilty Monday, but denied he was the shooter.

The victim in the case, a then 38-year-old man who was walking with friends in Waterville near the intersection of Main and North Streets in January 2022, was hit in the eye and taken by a LifeFlight of Maine helicopter to a Boston hospital.

He underwent several surgeries and has lasting damage to his eye as a result of being struck by a BB or pellet fired in the incident, according to officials.

Cody Dutton, 22, of Waterville pleaded guilty Monday to felony-level charges of aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon in the case at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

His lawyer, however, said Dutton was not the shooter in the incident and his guilty pleas reflect guilt only under state laws that recognize an accomplice in an incident can be charged the same as if he or she had committed the act.

Dutton’s lawyer, William Baghdoyan, said three people — Dutton’s girlfriend and two unnamed juveniles — were with Dutton in his truck when the shooting occurred. Baghdoyan said one of the two juveniles fired the shot that hit the victim.


“It was clearly the juvenile in the left-rear seat that did the shooting,” Baghdoyan said during a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

State prosecutor Tina Panayides said the state had conflicting information on who did the shooting in the incident, with the various people involved pointing the finger at other participants.

She said the state had ample evidence, however, to convict Dutton of the aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon charges based on the state’s accomplice liability provisions, including that he was driving the truck and knew those with him were shooting the BB gun.

Panayides said Dutton told police he had advised his passengers to shoot at objects, not people.

Waterville police arrested Dutton in January 2022 and charged him with elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. The most serious charge, elevated aggravated assault, a Class A offense punishable by up to 30 years in prison, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the state.

Then-Deputy Chief William Bonney of the Waterville Police Department said at the time of the shooting there was no indication Dutton knew the man who was shot.


Witnesses gave a description of the vehicle from which the BB gun was reportedly fired, and police began making connections with BB gun incidents from the previous week in which windows and other objects had been shot in Waterville, according to Bonney.

The plea includes Dutton’s agreeing to participate in the county’s Criminogenic Addiction Recovery Academy, in which he has already taken part for seven weeks, and Co-Occurring Disorders Court for at least a year.

Maeghan Maloney, the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the plea deal was negotiated because Dutton had no criminal record and due to his young age.

If Dutton is successful in completing the Co-Occurring Disorders Court treatment program, the aggravated assault charge would be withdrawn and he would only be charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. His sentence would be five years in prison, but with all but the time he has already served while awaiting trial — about 305 days — suspended.

If Dutton fails to complete the treatment program, the aggravated assault charge would remain and his sentence would be eight years in prison, with all but three years suspended.

Dutton is also expected to pay restitution to the victim for his medical costs.


Janessa Smart Arbour, identified in court Monday as Dutton’s girlfriend, has also been charged in the incident because she was allegedly with him inside the vehicle during the incident. She faces a Friday court hearing on charges of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated criminal mischief.

Maloney said law enforcement officials did not charge the juvenile who, according to the defense, was the alleged shooter in the incident, and no report on the youth was submitted to Maloney’s office.

Dutton also pleaded guilty to one count of violating conditions of release for having contacted Smart Arbour by telephone from jail. Panayides said the pair discussed having the juvenile involved in the incident take the blame for the shooting.

The Criminogenic Addiction Recovery Academy program, or CARA, at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta seeks to help people break the cycle of rearrest by working to address their substance abuse and criminal behavior.

The Co-Occurring Disorders Court began in 2005 and handles defendants with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Participants are required to check in with court officials at least weekly and take part in substance use and mental health treatment. They are tested to ensure they are not using substances they are not allowed to use. The court is meant to help participants connect with and contribute to their communities.

Superior Court Justice Deborah Cashman warned Dutton the Co-Occurring Disorders program is tough, but could pay big dividends if he completes it. Cashman said the program has helped some participants lead substance-free lives and be successful.

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