Trial to begin in shooting death of South Portland man

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Jury selection begins Friday, Jan. 8, in Cumberland County Superior Court in the trial of a Skowhegan man accused of killing a 50-year-old computer programmer who lived in the Willard Beach neighborhood.

Malcolm Lavalle-Davidson, 50, is charged with manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of Fred Wilson in the basement of Wilson’s Henry Street home on April 17, 2009.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 11.

Wilson’s death shocked many in the Willard Beach neighborhood. Friends remembered Wilson as a person deeply devoted to his faith and ready to cite poetry and philosophy at a moment’s notice. They said he was always willing to lend neighbors a helping hand.

Defense attorney Michael Whipple said Lavalle-Davidson, who pleaded not guilty in May, is still devastated by the loss of his friend.

“This is the single most horrific incident in his life,” Whipple said. “He’s adamant this was an accidental shooting.”

Details of the shooting are largely unknown, since testimony before a grand jury that indicted Lavalle-Davidson is sealed. But according to a Dec. 21, 2009, court filing by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, the prosecution alleges Lavalle-Davidson shot Wilson “while attending a homosexual party.”

Marchese could not be reached this week to explain why her office made a distinction about sexual orientation.

Authorities ruled the shooting was accidental, but would not answer questions about how the gun was being used when Wilson was killed. A third man was present during the shooting, but was not charged.

Investigators said Lavalle-Davidson admitted to pointing the gun at Wilson’s head and pulling the trigger, but said he didn’t know the gun was loaded. Lavalle-Davidson did not report the shooting until 8 p.m. the following day.

Authorities said alcohol and drugs were used the night of the shooting.

According to Justice Robert Crowley’s jury instructions, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lavalle-Davidson was responsible for Wilson’s death and that his actions were reckless or criminally negligent.

According to court documents, Lavalle-Davidson, who is Ivy League-educated and has no criminal history, has had difficulty remembering the events of that evening. He was evaluated in October for a possible cognitive disorder, described in court documents as “AIDS dementia complex.”

Doctors confirmed that he suffers from a “mild cognitive disorder likely resulting from a history of mild seizures, beginning progression of cognitive defects related to HIV infection as well as hypoxia due to pneumonia.”

Prosecutors tried to prevent the medical testimony from being used as evidence by the defense, because no opinion was offered about how Lavalle-Davidson’s condition may have affected him on the night of the shooting. That motion, however, was denied by Crowley.

The trial is expected to last through Thursday, Jan. 14, Whipple said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]