Trial begins for Scarborough man charged with beating Portland woman

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PORTLAND — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Scarborough man accused of severely beating a Portland woman last summer.

Eric Gwaro, 28, of Scarborough, faces charges of Class A attempted murder, Class A elevated aggravated assault, Class B aggravated assault and Class E violating conditions of release in relation to what police described as a brutal beating of 25-year-old Sherri York in the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2012.

According to police, officers responding to reports of the altercation discovered York lying unconscious on Montgomery Street near the base of Munjoy Hill. Witnesses pointed out Gwaro, an on-call Scarborough firefighter, as the assailant, police have said. Officers arrested him after allegedly finding him hiding in nearby hedges and engaging in a brief chase that ended in Peppermint Park on Cumberland Avenue.

The victim of the alleged assault remained unconscious for more than a month after the incident, police reported at the time. York reportedly suffered face and skull fractures from the alleged assault.

Portland CBS television affiliate WGME reported after a September 2012 court appearance by Gwaro that prosecutors claimed area surveillance cameras captured the Scarborough man “dragging the (victim) by the hair,” and that witnesses said he “punched her and stomped on her head.”

The television station also reported that Gwaro maintained he was innocent of the crime.

York also has a criminal history. Less than a week before the incident, she was charged by Portland police with trafficking in dangerous knives and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. The previous December, Portland police arrested her on charges of engaging in prostitution.

The Class A charges awaiting Gwaro each carry maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines, while the Class B charge carries a top sentence of 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. The Class E misdemeanor charge could yield a maximum sentence of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

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Eric Gwaro