BANGOR — Two teen-agers arrested New Year’s Eve after a high-speed police chase that ended in a crash in Brewer were in court Friday. Funeral services for a third teen-ager in the car who killed himself as police approached the vehicle will be held Sunday in Newport.
The car chase and the subsequent investigation have been tied to a string of veterinary hospital burglaries, and the illicit sale and use of an animal tranquilizer known as ketamine, referred to as Special K.
Sarah Gardner, 18, of Brewer and Eric Brewer, 19, formerly of Portland, remained behind bars Friday night, despite a request by Brewer to be released long enough to attend the funeral of 19-year-old John Gilman of Glenburn.
At Brewer’s arraignment Friday afternoon in Ellsworth District Court, Assistant District Attorney Dennis Smith described Brewer as an incorrigible drug dealer and addict “who leaves victims in his wake wherever he goes.”
Smith said Brewer spent time in the Maine Youth Center as a juvenile and ran away. He also is wanted in Cumberland County for allegedly trafficking in heroin near a school and selling phenobarbital to a 17-year-old who subsequently overdosed and almost died.
Phenobarbital was one of three drugs stolen last month in a string of veterinary hospitals burglaries in Hancock County, along with ketamine and diazepam, also known as Valium.
Police also are investigating a series of burglaries at other veterinary hospitals in southern Maine, and in Pittsfield and Newport.
On Friday, Brewer was charged with burglarizing the Maine Coast Veterinary Hospital in Blue Hill, from which syringes, cash and a Polaroid camera were stolen. Police found the camera in Gardner’s car after Wednesday’s chase.
Brewer also faces a fugitive-from-justice charge that stems from allegations that he broke into veterinary clinics in Massachusetts in November.
He remains held in jail with no bail on the fugitive-from-justice charge, and Judge William Anderson set a $50,000 cash bail on the Blue Hill burglary charge.
Sophie Spurr, a Blue Hill attorney appointed to represent Brewer, said Brewer, who has cropped hair dyed gold and a daisy tattoo on his left forearm, told her that he had been shuttled among foster homes in his childhood and his only relatives in Maine are a grandmother and an aunt in Wiscasset.
“Mr. Brewer informs me that he was unaware of the Massachusetts charges until today,” Spurr told the court. “He does have an addiction to drugs and is currently experiencing a lot of grief regarding the suicide of his best friend.”
Spurr said Brewer had asked to attend Gilman’s funeral, but the judge said he didn’t have the authority to tell the Sheriff’s Department what to do with individuals in its custody.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating Brewer in connection with three burglaries of veterinary clinics on the night of Dec. 18.
Another youth, Ryan Cahill, 18, of Bangor, was arrested shortly after the burglaries and has been charged with burglarizing the Mountain View Veterinary Clinic in Trenton. He is in custody at Hancock County Jail and reportedly told authorities Brewer was the mastermind of those burglaries.
“Eric Brewer was the one [Cahill] named as the mastermind,” Steve McFarland, a detective with the Sheriff’s Department, told the court Friday.
On Wednesday evening, police were looking for Brewer in Glenburn when they spotted him in the passenger seat of a car driven by Gardner. Gilman was in the back seat.
Gardner allegedly drove around the police cruiser and sped away. Police chased the car through Glenburn and Bangor, and the chase ended when Gardner lost control of the car at the I-395 offramp into Brewer.
As police approached the car, Gilman put a .22-caliber gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
It remains unclear and may never be known why Gilman took his life.
Gilman had attended John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, graduating in 1996. In school, he was considered “a real sharp kid,” science teacher Michael Schaab said Friday. He was a National Merit Scholar finalist.
Gilman seemingly found his niche on the school’s chess team, which at the time involved 25 people, with Schaab as coach. He found the game challenging and fit in well with the team, Schaab said. He was “a real team player” who didn’t question when he was bumped from a match for another player, or when Schaab made suggestions about how to play his game.
Gardner is charged with Class C eluding a police officer, but more charges may be forthcoming, according to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. He said investigators also were trying to figure out whether Gardner was involved in any of the veterinary burglaries.
Wearing a blue jail uniform, Gardner displayed no emotion while appearing in court, and answered questions in a matter-of-fact manner.
District Court Judge Ronald Russell set bail for Gardner at $20,000 surety or $5,000 cash, but she will not be eligible for release until she also meets new bail terms with the Division of Probation and Parole.
Gardner is on probation for an August 1997 burglary conviction. This week’s incident would be considered a violation of that probation, so she must meet not only the bail imposed Friday, but also separate bail conditions that may be imposed next week. Until then, she will remain incarcerated.
Gardner was convicted of misdemeanor theft in February 1997, but details of the crime were not available. The burglary conviction stemmed from a break-in at a Bradley home during which stereos, a TV and a VCR were stolen. She was sentenced to a year in prison with all but 60 days suspended, and a year of probation.
When police pulled Gardner from the vehicle Wednesday evening, they found a .22-caliber gun beneath her. Because she is a convicted felon, she also may face a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, Almy said.
A third handgun was found on the passenger-side floor of the car, where Brewer was sitting.
Brewer will be transferred shortly to state prison and may be extradited to Massachusetts to face the charges there.
NEWS reporter Doug Kesseli contributed to this report.