March 29, 2020

Jury deliberations begin in Lewiston double murder

AUBURN – Jurors opened deliberations Friday in a double-murder trial but failed to reach an immediate verdict and were sent home for the weekend.

Closing arguments concluded Friday morning in Androscoggin County Superior Court and the jury went out around midday.

Tommy Dyer, 21, told jurors Thursday that Gary Gauthier Jr., 25, was the one who fatally beat James Vining and John Graffam near abandoned railroad tracks in rural Lewiston the night of Sept. 23, 2005.

Dyer testified how Gauthier became enraged after Vining, 43, boasted he had served in the Marines. Gauthier took a baseball bat from the trunk of his car and hit Vining in the head, knocking him to the ground, Dyer testified.

Gauthier then hit Graffam, 30, before moving back to Vining, Dyer said, at one point kneeling down to Vining and taunting: “You’re a big Marine, aren’t you?”

Prosecutors, who wrapped up their case on Wednesday, have linked the defendants to the victims through DNA and blood found on clothing, a baseball bat, beer cans and cigarette butts.

Dyer on Thursday tried to portray himself as an unwilling participant, pointing the finger at Gauthier. Gauthier pulled a foot-long hunting knife from his pocket, Dyer said, and threatened him if he refused to hit the men with the bat, saying, “I’ll kill you too.”

Dyer said he halfheartedly swung the bat a couple of times, hitting Graffam. He also stomped on Graffam a couple of times, he said, but never hit Vining.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese and Gauthier’s attorney, Robert Ruffner, tried to discredit Dyer’s story, pointing out conflicting statements he gave to police and others, including his girlfriend at the time.

Marchese asked Dyer about bloodstains on a shirt, and why he spent so much time with Gauthier after the killing if he was so afraid of him.

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