August 23, 2019

Testimony focuses on time of deaths in Robinson trial

If the jurors hearing a murder case this week in Bangor eventually decide that Edward Clinton Robinson Jr. killed two people, they must believe that the pair died while Robinson was still in town.

The prosecution sought to establish that on Tuesday, the first day of testimony, with an expert witness who said Patricia Maguire and Robert Blanchard died either late Friday, June 3, 1988, or early the next morning — shortly before Robinson left town for several weeks.

Robinson’s defense, meanwhile, sought to show that the pair lived as late as Saturday afternoon. Court-appointed defense attorney Wayne Foote, who took the case only weeks ago when his predecessor became a District Court judge, told the jury he would present several witnesses who saw the victims after the time the prosecution claims they died.

The trial got under way Tuesday afternoon. Jury selection, which had consumed all of Monday, ended late Tuesday morning.

Robinson, 52, of Bangor is charged with shooting Maguire, 48, and Blanchard, 51, at Maguire’s home in what was then known as Tozier’s Trailer Park in Bangor. Maguire’s daughter, Cindy Commeau, discovered their bodies on June 5, 1988.

The three had been seen at various Bangor night spots the previous Friday evening before they all ended up at the New Waverly. Maguire was with Blanchard. In his opening statement, Hjelm said that some witnesses saw Robinson, who had been romantically involved with Maguire, staring at the pair and that he left the bar soon after they did.

Both were shot twice with a .44-caliber weapon. Blanchard died from one of two wounds to his head. Maguire was shot twice through the chest, with the lethal wound destroying one chamber of her heart.

Hjelm told the jury that Robinson left Bangor suddenly in the early hours of Saturday. He did not go to work, although he had been a reliable worker at a Bangor automobile-parts store, said the prosecutor, and left without checking out of the motel where he had been staying on a weekly basis. He withdrew money at a Maine Savings Bank automatic-teller machine in Bangor early Saturday, and later that morning withdrew more from the Augusta branch.

But Foote, in his opening statement, said that Robinson “kept his own counsel” and that it was “not unusual” for him to move suddenly, without telling anyone.

Dr. Edward David, the medical examiner who inspected the bodies, listed several physiological and situational factors that led him to conclude that the victims had died about 36 hours before Commeau found them.

Foote asked David how accounts of later sightings of the victims — including a neighbor of Maguire’s who claims to have seen her carrying a package into her trailer on Saturday — would weigh in estimating time of death. David said a sighting such as the one the neighbor described would at least warrant further inquiry and could lead him to revise his estimate.

But, he testified, “Eyewitnesses are notoriously … poor in (remembering) detail.”

Commeau, the first witness to take the stand, told through tears how she had tried repeatedly to telephone her mother on Saturday, without success. On Sunday, she became concerned and went to the trailer.

She first encountered a man’s body in the living room — she couldn’t tell whose it was. Weeping intensely, she testified: “I hollered for my mother. I hollered, `Mom.’ I looked around and I saw her laying on the floor in the kitchen. I shook her and I said, `Mom, mom. … I went outside and I just kept screaming.”

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