PORTLAND — It took less than an hour for a Cumberland County Superior Court jury to find Malcom Bruce Lavallee-Davidson guilty of manslaughter in the April 2009 shooting death of a 50-year-old South Portland man.
The jury found Lavallee-Davidson, who did not testify, guilty of being reckless and criminally negligent when he fatally shot Fred Wilson in the basement of Wilson’s Willard Beach home.
The shooting occurred at the end of a sex party involving three men, drugs, alcohol and guns.
The 50-year-old Skowhegan farmer will remain free on $10,000 bail until he is sentenced on March 26. He faces a minimum sentence of four years in prison, according to the prosecutor. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years in jail.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Tom Hallett tried to put the victim on trial.
Hallett said that extreme sex play was a passion of Wilson’s, who built what was described as a “dungeon” or “play room” equipped with whips, chains, handcuffs and other sex toys and apparatus. He said Wilson consumed a dangerous amount of drugs that evening and asked Lavallee-Davidson to enhance his sexual pleasure by playing Russian roulette, contending it was Wilson who loaded the gun.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who prosecuted the case, said Hallett’s version of events didn’t make any sense.
Marchese said Wilson, an amateur with guns who passed out and fell down several times that evening, couldn’t have had the dexterity to find and load a gun in a small, dark room while engaging in sex acts and huffing drugs.
The victim’s sister, Kim Wilson, of Burbank, Calif., said after the trial she was relieved the jury quickly reached a decision. Wilson criticized the defense for portraying her brother in such a negative light.
“Obviously I’m not happy at all they tried to try my brother, the victim, in this case,” Wilson said. “I was glad that the jury saw through that and made a decision based on the law.”
Wilson said Lavallee-Davidson tried to contact her a few days ago to apologize, but she wasn’t ready to accept. She remembered her brother as a kind and generous person with “an amazing sense of humor.”
“They were trying to portray him as ill and sickly, but he wasn’t,” she said.
Richard Nacaula, a Biddeford resident who was in an open relationship with Wilson, said he was disappointed that Lavallee-Davidson didn’t “man up” and take responsibility for his actions. Nacaula said he believed justice was served by the jury’s decision.
“It was pretty much an open-and-shut case,” Nacaula said. “It’s a shame (the state’s) time and money was spent on this.”
Nacaula was also upset with the defense’s portrayal of Wilson. “I have yet to meet a person who didn’t like (Wilson),” he said.
Marchese used her closing arguments to remind jurors that the lifestyle and extreme sex play of the men involved was not the issue of the trial.
“Fred is a person,” Marchese said. “Fred is not defined by his recreational habits.”
Recreation on April 17, 2009, involved nearly 12 hours of extreme sex play with drugs, alcohol, guns and ammunition in a specially designed room in Wilson’s Henry Street home. Lavallee-Davison made arrangements to meet a third man, James Pombriant, 65, of Auburn, at Wilson’s house for a sex party.
The defense argued that Lavallee-Davidson was asked to play roulette by Wilson, who was engaged in sex with Pombraint. But Pombriant said he didn’t hear that discussion.
The defense also claimed that Lavallee-Davidson checked the gun three times that night to make sure it was not loaded. When Lavallee-Davidson left to use the restroom, Hallett argued, the gun was loaded by Wilson.
He said no one really knows what happened and the prosecution was asking jurors to speculate.
But the only thing that mattered, Marchese said, was that Lavallee-Davidson pointed a gun at Wilson’s head and pulled the trigger without checking to see if it was loaded.
“As a gun owner, it’s his responsibility to make sure that gun is not loaded,” she said.
Marchese also attacked Lavallee-Davidson’s credibility by focusing on his behavior right after the shooting and his subsequent interview with police. The defendant never expressed surprise the gun was loaded after the shooting, she said.
Marchese said Lavallee-Davidson tried to clean the crime scene and removed his weapons and Wilson’s cell phone and laptop computer. He also threw the bullet casing out of his truck window on his way home and called Pombriant to try to convince him to say Wilson committed suicide.
Pombriant refused and instead called police to report an accidental death. Lavallee-Davison didn’t contact police until 24 hours after the shooting.
Following the trial, Hallett said he was disappointed with the verdict, suggesting the jury did not carefully consider the evidence.
“I thought they’d be a little bit longer,” he said. “They had some facts to consider.”
Hallett said a decision on whether to appeal the verdict will be made after Lavallee-Davidson is sentenced.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org