AUGUSTA — Joseph Tracy was killed by a single gunshot that lodged in the spine of his neck and perforated his spinal cord, fired from behind, from about 12 inches away.

The state’s chief medical examiner testified on those details Tuesday, on the second day of the murder trial of Jashawn Lipscombe in connection with the 2020 shooting death of Tracy in Waterville.

Jashawn Lipscombe

Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner, said a single bullet entered Tracy’s back and lodged in the spine of his neck. Marks left on Tracy’s body indicated the shot that killed him was fired up-close, between eight and 18 inches away, the medical examiner said.

Lipscombe, 23, of New York City, is accused of shooting and killing Tracy, 33, of West Gardiner, who died June 8, 2020. Prosecutors said Lipscombe was furious that Tracy was late to take him to the airport on June 6 that year, and shot Tracy in the neck and left him to die in a Waterville apartment.

Lt. Jason Richards, at the time of the crime senior crime scene analyst for Maine State Police, testified Tuesday that a .25-caliber shell casing was found just outside the apartment of Ohisha Henderson, where the shooting took place. He testified that casing matched the .25-caliber bullet removed from Tracy in an autopsy. But he later specified, under questioning from defense attorney David Paris, that he didn’t know if it was specifically the casing from the same actual bullet, just that it matched the caliber.

Other witnesses took the stand Tuesday as well. Paul Salley, a landscaper, testified he was cleaning up a pile of brush at 12 Greenwood St. in Waterville on June 8, 2020, when he found a gun under a brush and dirt pile. Greenwood Street is off College Avenue, a few blocks from Home Place Inn, where the shooting took place. He testified picking up the gun, a .25-caliber pistol, and determined it was loaded. He took the clip out of the gun and called the homeowner to see if he’d misplaced it, and then he called police. He identified a black and silver handgun showed him in court as the gun he found under the brush pile.


Joseph Tracy Provided by Jessica Poulin

In his opening statements Monday, Chris Coleman, an assistant district attorney, had said evidence would show Jashawn Lipscombe discarded the gun he used to shoot Tracy as he walked across the lawn of the Greenwood Street property. Police located the gun there, Coleman later played a video that showed a man walking on the sidewalk across part of that addresses’ lawn, then moving out of the camera shot.

“Do you have any way of knowing the gun was the actual gun that shot Joe Tracy?” defense attorney Paris asked Richards on the stand.

“I do not,” Richards responded.

A police affidavit said there were no fingerprints on the gun, other than those of the man who found it, Salley.

Jashawn Lipscombe, whose first name has been spelled as Jashaun by authorities in the past, pleaded not guilty in 2021, and has been jailed since then while awaiting trial.

In January, Lipscombe’s brother, Jarae, was sentenced to three years in prison for hindering Jashawn Lipscombe’s arrest. He was found guilty at a jury trial last year of hindering apprehension or prosecution because he had lied to police and helped his brother flee the crime scene. Jashawn Lipscombe then reportedly fled the state and remained on the lam for nearly nine months before he was arrested.


Witnesses who testified in court Tuesday described how they assisted the Lipscombe brothers after the shooting, providing both of them rides. Penny Eastland, who knew both Lipscombes, said she first gave Jashawn and his girlfriend a ride from Vigue Street in the Waterville neighborhood where the shooting took place to her aunt’s home in Vassalboro, then went back to pick them back up, and then picked up Jarae Lipscombe at the Waterville police station.

Police say Joseph Tracy, 33, was shot and killed June 6, 2020, at an apartment at Home Place Inn at 150 College Ave. in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

She took Jarae to his home in Lewiston and took Jashawn and his girlfriend to the Madison home of Justin Cornforth, where they spent the night. Cornforth took them to a Lewiston hotel. When police went to the hotel, Jashawn Lipscombe was no longer there. They didn’t reach him until he was arrested some nine months later.

Eastland said Jashawn Lipscombe at one point asked her “to get the gun,” from “where they dropped it.”

Eastland, under questioning from Paris, said she received immunity from prosecution in order to testify at the trial, as she also had when she testified at Jarae Lipscombe’s trial on hindering his brother’s apprehension. She also acknowledged having numerous convictions for theft, as cited by Paris as he sought to raise questions about the credibility of her testimony.

Hours of debate Tuesday focused on the admissibility of text messages, most of them purportedly sent between the phone of the renter of the apartment where Tracy was killed, Ohisha Henderson, and Tracy.

Prosecutor Coleman, an assistant district attorney, sought to admit the texts and said some of them were clearly from Jarae Lipscombe, and showed the agitated state of mind the Lipscombe brothers were in that morning.

Paris countered that allowing texts from Henderson’s phone, without Henderson being called as a witness and thus able to be challenged on the texts, was a violation of the rules of evidence. That would make it impossible to tell who actually wrote the texts, and what they meant by the words they used, Paris argued.

Superior Court Justice Deborah Cashman allowed only a few of the texts to be read in court, and said she may reconsider whether to allow any of them, before the case closes. The trial was expected to resume Wednesday.

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