Friday, March 29, 2013

Maine Murder Trial Quotes

Statement Analysis is in bold type, added to the Bangor Daily News article. 

Peter Robinson
Gabor Degre | BDN
Peter Robinson
BANGOR, Maine — Bradford resident Peter Robinson took the stand at his murder trial on Thursday and told the jury heused a crowbar to beat Hudson resident David P. Trask todeath because he thought Trask had a gun.
Robinson, 49, said he confronted Trask, 71, on Nov. 12, 2011, about him leaving a chained gate open that gave access to the road to their properties. He testified earlier in the day to years of harassment by Trask family members over hunting on his posted land and disputes over the right of way.
I told him, ‘We need you to put the gate up, Dave,’” Robinson testified, recalling the day he took Trask’s life 16 months ago.
Note that "told" is authoritative. 
Note that the word "we" is referring to his family; not the accused and victim. 
Note the use of the victim's first name, "Dave"

He demonstrated the moves he made, using his defense attorney Thomas Hallett as a stand-in for David Trask. He said Trask had the crowbar in his hands and attempted to hit him with it, which is when he took the 15-pound, 58-inch-long metal bar out of Trask’s hands.
I reached out and grabbed it like this,” he said in the courtroom taking a wooden pointer from his lawyer’s hands. “He went to grab me  I hit him twice,” Robinson said, using the pointer to poke his attorney in the side, an action which in reality broke half a dozen of Trask’s ribs, according to testimony earlier in the week from the medical examiner.
Note that "I reached out" is in the appropriate past tense. 
Note that "he went to grave me" gives the reason why.
Note that "I hit him twice" is straight forward without qualifiers.  This is important part of the statement. 
He said, ‘I’m going to kill you, you [expletives],’” Robinson said, recalling Trask’s last words.
Trask took off a glove and reached for what Robinson said he thought was a holster.
I struck him on the side of the chin area [with the crowbar],” the defendant said.
Notice the use of the pronoun, "I" and the past tense "struck" him.  The subject knows how to use the past tense verbs. 
The impact knocked Trask to the ground. The holster turned out to be a cellphone.
He goes down and I see him going for his holster,” Robinson said. “I did one final blow because I thought he was going to shoot me.”
"He goes down" is present tense and is not reliable.  Reliable would have been "He went down."  
"I see him" is also present tense and is not reliable.  "I saw him" would have been reliable. 
What caused him to change from past tense to present tense at this part of his account?
"I did one final blow because..." is in past tense, and is highly sensitive as he has the need to explain why he "did" one "final" blow.  It is interesting to have him call it a "final" blow.  Why the need to give in any chronological reference? Does this signal that he knew that this blow would be, indeed, the "final" blow?  
Robinson’s attorney asked him if he could have run away.
No. All I could picture was him pulling a gun and shooting me,” Robinson answered.
Note that the attorney asked him if he "could" have run away.  His answer includes the word "could" but not in regard to running away.  He only said that he could "picture" something.  This should be taken in correlation with his change from reliable past tense of the first  blows, to the unreliable "final" blow described. 
The content shows reliable information about the hitting, but unreliable information about the victim going for a gun and the final blow. 
The four hits took just seconds, the defendant said.
I saw the damage I had done. It was awful and I went into a state of shock,” Robinson said. He said he then turned back toward his house, picked up a hammer from off the ground and threw it into the back of Trask’s truck. Once inside his home, “I dropped to my knees and started to cry,” he said.
He now returns to past tense verb usage with reliable statements. 
"saw", "had", "was" and "went"
He "dropped" to his knees.  Note he started to cry. 
In the recording of the 911 call Robinson made played in court, he didn’t mention a gun.
The "gun" is unreliable in Robinson's words. 
He came at me with a crowbar and I struck him in the head and I think he’s dead,” Robinson said to the 911 dispatcher. “This guy has been harassing me for years. I just wanted to tell him to shut the gate and he came at me with a crowbar.
We had a confrontation and he had a crowbar and I took it from him and bumped him,” he said later in the recording, his voice breaking with emotion.
Note that "bumped" is soft, minimizing language. 
The dispatcher was heard speaking with Robinson’s wife, Cheryl, for a few moments. Robinson could be heard crying in the background. At the end of the call for help, Robinson got back on the phone and told the dispatcher that he and his wife would stay in the house.
We’re here. We’re friendly. Tell them to just come in. We’ll just be sitting here,” he said on the recording.
Trask’s family and friends filled the entire right side of the courtroom at the Penobscot Judicial Center. At points during the trial, including when Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson presented a photo of Trask’s body lying on the ground with obvious and bloody injuries to the head, his son David A. Trask could be seen fighting back his own tears as he supported his quietly crying sisters by rubbing their shoulders.
Robinson was the first person to testify for the defense in the trial, which is expected to last until early next week.
Robinson’s trial began Monday and has included testimony about a plot by Trask’s son to harm the defendant, a murder-for-hire plot after Robinson got to jail, a video recorded by Robinson showing a confrontation with the Trask family in 2011, a former game warden’s testimony that Robinson made threats against the Trask family in February 2009, and testimony by neighbors about the strife between Robinson and the Trasks.
The state rested its case Thursday morning after calling a DNA expert and Maine State Police detective to the stand.
Theresa Calicchio, a forensic expert at the Maine Crimes Lab, said blood found on Trask and items in his pocket that spilled out near his body, and on boots and pants found at Robinson’s home, matched Trask’s blood.
Detective Herbert Leighton, who works with the Maine State Police major crimes unit, testified that blood splatter on Trask and other evidence indicated he was on the ground when he was killed.
Robinson took the stand about 12:30 p.m. and remained there until about 4:25 p.m. He was given two short breaks during his testimony after he said he was “stressed out” and needed a few minutes to regain his composure.
Benson started grilling Robinson about his account of the event about 3:10 p.m., asking him question after question about why he confronted Trask if he was afraid and intimidated by him and his family, as he had earlier testified.
Robinson needed his second stress break when Benson questioned him about escalating the situation by walking the 400 feet from his home to where Trask was working on a road culvert to confront him on the day he died.
“Yes, I did. I am very stressed and I’m having a hard time,” Robinson said.
Benson then recalled the sworn testimony of the game warden, his neighbors and Trask family members who already had taken the stand and asked Robinson individual questions if he thought they each lied.
He’s not telling the truth.”
We don't know the specific questions, but it appears that it was along the line of "Is he lying?" which should be answered with the simple, "yes"
“I don’t recall saying that.”
I never said that, sir,” were Robinson’s answers.
“Are they all mistaken?” the prosecutor asked.
Here the prosecution allows him to sum it up and we expect a strong response of "yes", or even "absolutely" since it is plural ("they all")
I guess you can say that,” Robinson said.
"I guess" is a weak answer.  If a subject cannot commit to an answer, we are not to commit to an answer for him.  This is weak. 
Earlier courtroom action centered on the alleged murder-for-hire plot against Robinson.
Hallett has stated in at least one court document that two of the victim’s brothers and one of their wives hatched a murder-for-hire plot in 2012, after Robinson was arrested.
Attorneys Michael Rair and Hunter Tzovarras, who are representing the two brothers, told Justice William Anderson on Thursday morning that if their clients were called as witnesses, they would invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions.
This shows that Robinson was dealing with bullies.  Did he deliberately give the "final" blow because of these threats?
Hallett asked that they be allowed to testify about the prior relationship between themselves and their family members and Robinson, with the caveat that they not discuss the murder-for-hire plot.
To prove that Robinson acted in self-defense, Hallett must show that his client reasonably believed deadly force was necessary and reasonably believed Trask was about to use unlawful deadly force against him, he argued Thursday morning in opposition to the motions to quash the subpoenas.
Anderson said before the jury was called in Thursday morning that he would decide after lunch if the defense would be able to call the brothers, but said, “they can’t testify piecemeal,” which means if they take the stand, they could be asked questions about the murder-for-hire plot.
“I can’t let my guy get on the stand. If he does, his constitutional rights are gone,” said Rair during the lunch break.
Anderson did not rule on the issue during the afternoon session. He is expected to rule on it Friday, according to the attorneys.
The trial is expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please help find Ayla
The murder for hire threat is supposed to justify murder? The victim probably would have rather the murderer chosen to throw the crowbar far aside.

Lis said...

A very sad story. It seems that anger and resentment built up from many negative interactions had spurred him to react more strongly than he should have. Such a reaction could take only an instant and remorse felt immediately, yet the action cannot be taken back.

Anonymous said...

Please help find Ayla
The murderer unnessessarily brought up picking up a hammer.

Anonymous said...

A very sad ending to ugly disputes between neighbors. How could fighting neighbors ever resolve such nasty and never ending disputes once they get out of hand? Vacate your property and move, or just let each side do as they please and then ignore each other, which would be next to impossible, or just hope that one side will eventually give up and walk away, maybe end it that way? A very hard thing to do, next to impossible.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of nasty people in this world whose only mission is to hate someone and make their life as miserable as they can, yet don't expect any retaliation. We see how this can end. ANY way to resolve a situation like this would be better than ending up killing someone or dead yourself.

I have a neighbor behind me who is driving me crazy but I try to ignore their deafening loud music at all hours of the day and night, and the loud car they deliberately park in their backyard and blast the excelerator, the motor and broken muffler, making it even louder. I've never even met or spoken to these people so it couldn't be anything I've done to them.

These people work on their car at midnight hammering and grinding away till 4:00 a.m., on top of all their other noises, and disturb my sleep night and day. It's GOT to be dope. So far I haven't reported them to 911, knowing there are noise ordinances they are violating; but I also know people are nuts, many on drugs, can retaliate against you, and will; maybe burn your house down with you in it.

What I don't need is someone burning me alive or blowing my brains out in a fit of rage so I just keep quiet, let them get away with it, hoping someone else will eventually report them. Meanwhile, my yardman knows their landlord and is going to discuss it with him, hoping he will take some action and get some peace for me that way. We'll see.

Sad sad situation for both of these families. It does sound like the victim's family frequently tormented Robinson and plotted to have him murdered; and it sounds like he was truly remorseful after beating his neighbor to death, but I don't see how this could ever end well for him, especially now that he has brutally killed his neighbor. What a horrible thing to live with.

Another Anonymous

Mainah said...


Hopefully the folks in the following (also from Maine) land dispute article will take heed before someone gets hurt/killed:

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/sumner-maine-medieval-ax-dirt-road-feud.html

^ This one's going med-evil on his neighbor.

S + K Mum said...

I can see how situations like these escalate.
Your home is supposed to be your safe-haven, a place where you and your family feel comfortable and safe. When you feel constantly threatened and intimidated it creates a huge strain. People snap. It's wrong but I can see how it happens.
People must abide by the law, not retaliate, and persevere ...although it takes forever....having been in this situation, 5+ years of it, court appearances, terrified children, sleepless nights, physical and mental abuse,entering my home - with no regard to the authorities whatsoever - it is very difficult to be strong enough not to retaliate. If we had, they would still be living beside us.
(Although the suggestion was that we should move to emergency accommodation, even though we own our home - they didn't).
I still worry that a burning rag will drop through my door though and have installed cameras.
I suppose if I truly believed myself or one of my kids was about to get killed I think I may have been capable of anything :( such was the strain, that is scary to admit.

BostonLady said...

If the neighbor had the crowbar, he was ready with the weapon. If the person on trial did not take it away from neighbor, would he be the one dead now? This appears to be the culmination of ongoing threats and anger between the two and only one was going to come out of it alive that day. I agree that the defendant appears to regret what happened. He didn't try to hide it as evidenced by calling the police immediately.

One question I have is why he would think his neighbor was going for a gun. I suppose it happened so fast maybe he wasn't thinking clearly but if he had a gun, I think the neighbor would have used it immediately, rather than a crowbar.

What a mess.

Glad My Neighbors Are Awesome said...

The earliest reports of this story held multiple accounts that alluded (if not outright stated-memory) that Robinson had been harassing Trask and that Trask was using the crowbar. What I remember, my impression, was that Robinson went down to instigate an argument so he could kill Trask. I rember thinking each time I read a new article that Robinson was a crazy, homicidal SOB coward. Im not sure I think differently about this now.
Was the murder for hire plot AFTER the murder of Trask? If so, and if that was the only documented case of retaliation, I do not see the Trask's as bullies. I can empathize with the rage a family might feel towards losing a family member like that. Hell, I wanted to torture the psychopath who shot those innocent Bernese Mountain Dogs.
That doesn't make me a bully (though perhaps way too emotionally invested in those dogs!)
Anyway, this is just my perception/memories of those perceptions. I am going to read those old articles again.

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