Criminal trials set to convene in 2014

By Tanya Mitchell | Jan 02, 2014
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell Corrections officers lead Todd Gilday, center, into Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast for his initial court appearance in August. Gilday is accused of fatally shooting 55-year-old Lynn Arsenault and wounding her son, 22-year-old Mathew Day at a residence on Waldo Avenue on the night of Aug. 28.

Bangor — There are a trio of criminal trials scheduled to move forward in the coming year, including a Belfast murder case, a manslaughter trial and the federal trial of a Monroe woman accused of assisting her family with executing a large-scale pot growing operation.

The State vs. Todd Gilday

In August, the state will try 44-year-old Todd Gilday on charges of intentional or knowing murder, attempted murder with a firearm and elevated aggravated assault with a firearm. The charges stem from an Aug. 28 incident in which Gilday allegedly forced his way into the 162 Waldo Ave. home of Mathew Day, 22, of Belfast. Gilday shot and killed Day's mother, 55-year-old Lynn Arsenault, after shooting and wounding Day.

Gilday then left the scene, and police caught up with him early the next morning as he was attempting to check himself in at PenBay Medical Center in Rockport. Court records show he told the hospital staff that he was a drug addict and had just had "a very bad night." Gilday also claimed to have used "a large amount of opiates" the night before.

Police arrested Gilday in Rockport, and he has since remained at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset awaiting a Harnish hearing, at which time a judge will determine if bail will be set and if it is, what conditions will be in place while Gilday is free on bail.

As of Monday, Dec. 30, the court has yet to set a date for that hearing.

An affidavit from Maine State Police Detective Dean Jackson dated Oct. 29 detailed interviews he conducted with several people connected to the case, including Jonathan Riley, who was in the Waldo Avenue residence on the night of the shootings.

According to the affidavit, Riley told Jackson he was friends with Day and he was at the home visiting on the night of the incident. Riley stated he also knew Gilday from past contact.

Riley told the detective Day was receiving text messages from Gilday earlier in the day.

"Mathew told [Jonathan] Riley that Todd Gilday was upset because Mathew's girlfriend's mother, Linda Linscott, had been at Mathew's house earlier that day," stated Jackson's affidavit. "According to [Jonathan] Riley, Mathew [Day] told him that Todd [Gilday] was coming to Mathew's house."

Riley told police Arsenault was asleep inside the home at the time of that discussion.

A short time later, Riley told police he and Day heard a car door shut and they went to the back door — the common entryway for the house — and observed Gilday "with a gun that had a sling attached to it." Riley stated to Jackson that he felt they were in danger and he ran to the living room.

"... [A]s he got to the living room he heard a gun shot and then saw glass fly everywhere," stated the affidavit.

Riley stated he got behind the couch, and according to the affidavit, he witnessed Day approach the couch and then saw Gilday shoot Day.

"Riley then heard Mathew's mother, Lynn Arsenault, scream. Riley looked over the top of the couch and observed Todd Gilday shoot Lynn Arsenault," stated the affidavit.

Riley told Jackson he then heard Day pleading with Gilday not to kill them, to which Riley said Gilday responded, "I am going to kill everyone." Riley said Day kept telling Gilday there was no one else in the home.

"Gilday appeared to be searching the house and Riley was in fear that he was going to be shot as well," stated Jackson.

Gilday left the house a short time later, and Riley called 911.

According to the affidavit, Day's girlfriend, Misty Linscott, described Gilday as a friend that helped her with transportation, and Day said he met Gilday through Linscott, and that the two had obtained drugs for one another.

Court records stated Gilday was upset because he thought Linda Linscott was trying to help the state take Misty Linscott's kids away from her. The affidavit also stated Gilday believed Linda Linscott was having an affair with Day while her daughter was serving her jail sentence.

Both Day and Linscott told police, according to court records, that Gilday and Linscott did not have an intimate relationship, but both also described Gilday as "a little strange" and "a bit odd at times" because they said he routinely started at women and made inappropriate comments.

In October Gilday appeared at Waldo County Superior Court and pleaded not guilty to the charges by reason of insanity. In the days prior to his appearance in the Waldo County courthouse, a Knox County Grand Jury indicted Gilday on the charges.

The court has tentatively scheduled Gilday's trial for August 2014.

The state vs. Alvaro Soares

In September, 27-year-old Alvaro Soares of Unity turned himself in to the Waldo County Sheriff's Office after learning he faced charges of manslaughter, operating under the influence involving death, reckless conduct, aggravated driving to endanger and criminal speeding.

The charges stemmed from a July 4 one-car accident in Thorndike in which one of Soares' two passengers, 23-year-old Oscar Tizon Brito, of Providence, R.I., died. The crash also left Soares' sister, Kelley Soares, 22, of Cranston, R.I., with serious injuries.

At the time of the crash, alcohol and excessive speed were considered factors in the investigation. Although police have not released how fast the vehicle was traveling before it struck a utility pole, previous reports indicated that Soares was driving well in excess of the posted speed limit of 30 mph.

Soares did not enter a plea when he appeared at Waldo County Superior Court on Oct. 31 and a motion for discovery by Defense Attorney Walter McKee was continued.

Soares has remained free on $50,000 unsecured bail. His next court appearance had been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 26, at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast, but the hearing was continued and is now set to take place Thursday, Jan. 30.

The state vs. Darlene Ford

The federal court has continued the retrial of a Monroe woman accused of helping her husband and two sons in a large-scale marijuana growing and distribution operation between 2006 and 2011, with the trial date set for February 2014.

Court records from United States District Court in Bangor show Justice John A. Woodcock granted the motion to delay the retrial of 58-year-old Darlene Ford, a request that came to the court from defense attorney, Donald F. Brown. Darlene Ford was initially scheduled to be retried in December.

In his motion, Brown told the court Darlene Ford had requested transcripts from her first federal trail in September and as of Nov. 27, Brown had received eight of the 11 requested documents. In addition, Brown stated his client is seeking transcripts of witness testimony from the trial of her husband, 58-year-old James F. Ford, whose trial concluded last month. At that time a jury found James F. Ford guilty of conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Brown also stated he had a preplanned vacation scheduled in January 2014, and between those plans and the need to obtain and review the transcripts, the matter would not be ready for a December trial.

Justice Woodcock granted the motion and reset the date of Darlene Ford's retrial to Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.

The court scheduled the new trial for Darlene Ford in September after Justice Woodcock declared a mistrial. Justice Woodcock made that decision when the jury failed to reach a verdict after more than nine hours of deliberation at the conclusion of her first trial.

Darlene Ford pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, maintaining a drug-involved place, and aiding and abetting a felon in possession of a firearm after agents with Maine Drug Enforcement raided her family's Swan Lake Avenue home.

Police seized about $800,000 worth of marijuana and an additional $80,000 in growing equipment, such as lights and a hydration system.

According to previously published reports, drug agents found the growing operation in the garage section of the home, and seized more than 300 marijuana plants in various stages of growth. The raid also resulted in the discovery of 10 pounds of processed marijuana and two semi-automatic assault weapons.

Darlene Ford and her husband, 58-year-old James F. Ford, were suspected of harvesting about 20 pounds of marijuana every three months and shipping it to Massachusetts, MDEA stated at the time of the arrests.

According to previously published reports, 33-year-old Paul Ford of Swanville pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants at his parents' Monroe property and manufacturing 50 or more plants at his home in Swanville. Paul Ford entered his guilty plea in May.

His 36-year-old brother, James T. Ford, of Monroe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, manufacturing 100 or more marijuana plants and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in December 2012.

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