Fate Of Accused Anson Murderer In Judge's Hands - Verdict Could Take Weeks
Testimony has wrapped up in the trial of an Anson man accused of killing a man over a drug dispute on Halloween back in 2009.
Monday morning in Skowhegan, 41-year-old Robert Nelson took the stand in his own defense. Nelson is accused of fatally shooting 60-year-old Everett Cameron in North Anson for his prescription oxycodone. Everyone involved in the case has said thatCameron, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 7 years ago, was selling his prescription medication for extra money. One of his customers was Robert Nelson.
Defense attorneys have argued since the start of the trial that the prosecution's case is purely circumstantial, lacking physical evidence. "What do they have against Mr. Nelson? I would suggest that it's nothing other than the fact that he was in the vicinity at some point before Mr. Cameron was killed. But I think a fair read of the evidence is that there's no way he could have been there at 2:15, when I think the state is saying that Mr. Cameron was shot. Mr. Nelson was elsewhere," defense attorney Philip Mohlar said outside the courthouse Monday.
Monday, Nelson took the stand and Mohlar wasted little time getting straight to the point.
Mohlar: "Rob did you kill Everett Cameron?"
Nelson: "I did not kill Everett Cameron"
Mohlar would ask that question a total of three times during his direct examination of Nelson, getting the same response each time.
Prosecutors have maintained from the beginning that Nelson was sober when he cut wood with a friend early on the morning of October 31, 2009. Then, prosecutors and police say, Nelson met with Cameron, shot him in the face, stole his prescription Oxycodone, and was seen under the influence by friends and family a short time later. A large part of the prosecution's case hinges on whether or not Robert Nelson was sober the morning of the murder. They've tried to paint a picture of a drug addict so desperate for drugs he killed for them.
Nelson's testimony contradicted the prosecution's depiction, testifying he had drugs on him that day and was snorting pills and drinking beer all day.
Nelson described in detail what he did the day of the murder, testifying that he had snorted pills in the morning before arriving at a wood lot to work with a friend. He testified that once at the wood lot he started drinking beer and at some point got a phone call from Everett Cameron, whom he admits to owing $35 for drugs.
Nelson: "Everett had called me and informed he was all set."
Mohlar: "What did at mean to you?"
Nelson: "That he had pills."
When asked why he would meet Cameron to buy drugs when he already had some on him Nelson said, "I wasn't 'jonesing'. Like any other addict, I was thinking ahead."
Nelson testified he met up with Cameron and told him he didn't have his money. He said the two men engaged in small talk and Nelson left to go to his daughter's birthday party. He has maintained that when he left Cameron he was alive.
Under cross examination, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea pointed out that Nelson had just cashed his pay check and had almost $600 in cash on him. Zania asked Nelson why he didn't just pay Cameron the money he owed him and buy more pills from him since he knew Cameron had just filled his prescription. "I wanted to hold on to my money to purchase other drugs," Nelson testified. "In order to purchase more drugs from him I would have had to pay him the money I owe him."
Zania also highlighted a lie Nelson told police about having fired a gun recently. State police detectives told Nelson they could test him for gun shot residue on the spot as part of a bluff to get Nelson to confess. Nelson told the detectives he had been target shooting with a friend, a story that turned out to be a lie. On the stand, Nelson called the lie "pure stupidity."
Nelson testified he had repaired a rifle he owned and test fired the gun a short time before the murder. "I had a free day to myself. I reassembled it and shot it right behind my house," Nelson testified.
As a convicted felon, it's a violation for Nelson to own a gun. He testified that was the reason he lied to the police about owning and shooting a gun. "Cause I didn't want to go to jail. I had a firearm at my house."
Outside the courthouse, Mohlar told reporters it was Nelson's decision to take the stand. "He has steadfastly maintained his innocence from day one. I think the very first day I talked to him he said that he wanted to testify," Mohlar said. "We made sure that he understood he didn't have to, but ultimately it's his call. He made the decision to get on the stand and testify."
Nelson pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The maximum sentence he could receive is 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine. Sentencing on that charge will happen after the conclusion of the murder trial.
Friday, Judge John Nivison granted the prosecution a continuance so state police could search a gravel pit in the Kingfield area for more evidence.
Defense attorneys said that search turned up nothing.
Closing arguments are set for Tuesday morning.
If convicted, Nelson faces 25 years to life.
Nelson Murder Trial Stalled So Police Can Look For More Evidence