Defense lawyer Andrew B. Wright, left, and defendant Jashawn Lipscombe, 23, of New York City listen Wednesday during closing arguments at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A judge will decide the verdict in the murder trial of Jashawn Lipscombe, who was described Wednesday in closing arguments as either a cold-blooded killer fleeing the scene or an innocent man who had no motive.

Testimony wrapped up on the third day of Lipscombe’s murder trial, with Superior Court Justice Deborah P. Cashman saying she expects to decide the case and issue her verdict next week. Lipscombe waived his right to a jury trial, so his case will be decided by the presiding judge, Cashman.

Lipscombe, 23, of New York City is accused of shooting and killing Joseph Tracy, 33, of West Gardiner on June 6, 2020, in Waterville. Tracy died two days after being shot at the Home Place Inn at 150 College Ave.

A state prosecutor said in his closing argument that Lipscombe shot Tracy and left him for dead at a Waterville apartment, also leaving behind his own brother, who gave police a bogus description of the shooter in order to throw them off his brother’s trail as he fled. That also gave Lipscombe time to discard the gun he used along the way and borrow a neighborhood resident’s telephone to call for a ride to come take him away. Later, Lipscombe asked the friend who picked him up to go back and retrieve the gun, the prosecutor said.

One of Lipscombe’s defense lawyers countered that state prosecutors failed to directly tie Lipscombe to Tracy’s death or show that Lipscombe was ever at the College Avenue apartment where Tracy was shot, provide evidence that Lipscombe used or had ever handled the gun found at a nearby yard or show that the gun was the one used to shoot and kill Tracy.

Andrew B. Wright, one of Lipscombe’s two lawyers, said state prosecutors are asking the court to make leaps of faith to convict Lipscombe. He said Lipscombe did not flee to New York and, instead, simply went home.


Lipscombe reportedly fled Maine and remained on the lam for nearly nine months, before being arrested in New York.

“Contrary to many people’s ideas, being from New York is not a crime, and being in Maine, being from New York, is not a crime,” Wright said. “We know Joseph Tracy was killed. It’s the state’s burden to prove who did that, beyond a reasonable doubt. No one puts Jashawn at the scene. There is no scientific evidence showing Jashawn had anything to do with this crime. No DNA. He was in the proximity of the crime, but was not at the crime scene itself. Being on the streets of Waterville is not a crime. There is no evidence as to why Jashawn Lipscombe would ever have any problem with Joe Tracy, or why he’d shoot him.”

Wright said also said there is no evidence that rules out other suspects.

“The state has absolutely failed to do its duty to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wright said.

Superior Court Justice Deborah P. Cashman is framed by defense lawyer Andrew B Wright, left, and defendant Jashawn Lipscombe, 23, of New York City during closing arguments Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Cashman is expected to issue her verdict next week in the nonjury trial. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Bud Ellis, an assistant attorney general, said in his closing argument that Lipscombe had been at the apartment where police found his brother, Jarae Lipscombe, cradling a bleeding Tracy in his arms, but fled before police arrived. Ellis said a suggestion by Jashawn Lipscombe’s defense team that Jarae Lipscombe was the one who shot Tracy does not make sense because Jarae Lipscombe remained at the scene, tried to render aid to Tracy and spoke to police about the shooting.

Ellis acknowledged the state’s case was based on circumstantial evidence, but said there was ample evidence to show the only common sense conclusion: Jashawn Lipscombe, not his brother or anyone else, shot and killed Tracy. He said the state is not required to provide a motive for the crime, and why it happened might remain a mystery.


“Our position is the circumstantial evidence proved what happened and who did it,” Ellis said. “Why it happened may remain mysterious, but that’s not an element of the crime. Something happened there that day. Jashawn Lipscombe is the only logical conclusion as to who fired the shot, at close range, and then fled the scene, disposed of the gun and took all kinds of deceptive actions not to be caught and to get away from there. He’s the one who fired the pistol that shot Joseph Tracy in the back and ended up killing him.”

Police documents unsealed before the case went to trial indicated witnesses told police Jashawn Lipscombe shot Tracy because he was furious Tracy was late to give him a ride to the Bangor International Airport, although no witnesses called to the stand during the trial spoke to that motive. A majority of text messages, which prosecutors suggested would show the agitated state of mind of the Lipscombe brothers in the hours before the shooting, were not allowed to be admitted in the case because most of them were deemed hearsay.

In January, Jarae Lipscombe 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.

Ellis said two video cameras captured images of a man, who Ellis said was obviously Jashawn Lipscombe, fleeing the crime scene, with one image showing Lipscombe cutting across the lawn of a property. In the same area, a .25-caliber pistol — the same caliber as the bullet found in Tracy and a shell casing found at the shooting scene — was later found by a landscaper. Ellis said the shell casing and bullets found with the gun had the same manufacturer’s stamp on them, and Jashawn Lipscombe had hidden the gun under brush at 12 Greenwood Ave.

As Lipscombe sought to escape the area without detection, Ellis said, Lipscombe encountered then-Waterville police Officer Matt Libby. Lipscombe reportedly gave Libby a fake name and avoided apprehension because of the bogus suspect description.

Penny Eastland later picked up Lipscombe and drove him to a Vassalboro home and then to a Madison home, where he spent the night. Eastland testified Tuesday that Jashawn Lipscombe at one point asked Eastland “to get the gun” from “where they dropped it.”

Ellis said Jashawn Lipscombe had hidden the gun, then asked Eastland to retrieve it “because it was the gun he used to shoot Joseph Tracy.”

Wright moved for an acquittal before the case concluded Wednesday morning and before the defense rested its case, saying, “Not one reasonable, nonbiased factfinder could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in this matter.”

Cashman denied Wright’s motion for an acquittal.

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