MACHIAS – A Washington County jury Thursday found a 33-year-old Hampden man guilty of aggravated criminal mischief and other crimes after he tried to run down a Calais police officer.
The jury did not accept the defense attorney’s argument that even though a police cruiser was blocking Daniel Mutty’s truck, the man believed he could leave because the officer hadn’t arrested him.
Mutty did not react when the jury of 12 found him guilty of three counts of aggravated criminal mischief, two counts of reckless conduct, and one count each of criminal threatening, failure to stop for an officer and driving to endanger.
On June 14, a teller at Bangor Savings Bank in Calais discovered that Mutty was trying to pass a bad check. She notified police, and Sgt. Chris Donahue of the Calais Police Department showed up.
Donahue questioned Mutty and then called his dispatcher to check on the man’s criminal background, which the officer learned was extensive.
It was then that Mutty stomped on the accelerator of his truck, smashed into the front of the cruiser, jumped the bank’s parking lot curb, drove down a grassy slope, over a sidewalk and another curb and onto North Street.
Less than a quarter-mile down the road, he abandoned his moving truck and it rolled down the hill and into a parked truck. He then ran and hid in a nearby building and was eventually arrested by police.
After he was arrested, Mutty told police, “I didn’t want to go to jail.”
During his testimony, Mutty told the jury that he asked Donahue why he was being questioned, but the officer refused to tell him. That’s when he decided to leave, he said.
In her closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Carletta Bassano said that Mutty could have cared less about the police officer’s life when he stomped on the accelerator.
She said that Mutty’s car went “rocketing” toward the officer and he had less than a split second to jump out of the way. Bassano said Mutty did not have any regard for people who were out on the street that day when he abandoned his truck while it was still moving.
Had it not crashed into a parked truck, she said, it could have traveled across Main Street and into a car with people inside. “A motor vehicle used in that way is a dangerous weapon,” she said.
But Mutty’s attorney, Frank Cassidy of Machias, said that a police officer cannot stop someone and detain them for as long as they wanted to without arresting them. “Mr. Mutty has a right to go if he’s not arrested,” Cassidy said.
But Bassano told the jury that it was Mutty’s intent to escape and not be chased. She said he tried to disable the cruiser and the officer. “He told you [the jury] that he didn’t want to be caught and his actions proved that.”
It took the jury almost two hours to return a guilty verdict on all counts. Mutty is expected to be sentenced at the end of this year. He remained in the Washington County jail Thursday night.