As the defense in the trial of Randall Hofland opened its case Tuesday, Jan. 25, Hofland’s court-appointed defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker told the jury, as far as the charges Hofland faces, the devil is in the details.

After a brief discussion between Toothaker, Hofland and Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, Hofland — who has been taking the lead in defending his case, while Toothaker plays a secondary role — decided to allow Toothaker to deliver the opening statement. Hofland opted to let Toothaker handle the opening despite making a request that he and Toothaker share that duty.

“That way [Toothaker] can focus on the issues that he believes are most important and I can focus on the issues that I believe are most important,” said Hofland.

Hjelm said he believed one person delivering the opening would suffice, and said it would not constitute a violation of Hofland’s rights despite Hofland’s claim to the contrary. Hjelm explained to Hofland that it was up to he and Toothaker to make the final call.

After some additional discussion, Hofland agreed to let Toothaker have the floor for the opening.

The charges, as defined by law

Toothaker opened by taking the jurors through the history of how the American legal system was formed, reaching back to the sixth century to explain how disputes were typically solved in an English court, with the help of six impartial citizens who heard details of the dispute and decided what was “fair and just.”

“The people sitting where you are sitting are fair and impartial,” said Toothaker.

Toothaker then walked the jury through 41-count indictment against Hofland.

Hofland, 57, was indicted on 41 charges that include 22 counts of kidnapping, 12 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, six counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and a burglary charge. All of the charges — except for one count of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon — stem from Hofland’s appearance Oct. 31, 2008, at Stockton Springs Elementary School, during which he is accused of entering the school, brandishing a handgun and taking the fifth-grade class hostage.

Toothaker said count one, the charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, was the only charge that Hofland faces that stems from the Oct. 23, 2008, traffic detail, when Hofland allegedly pointed a gun at former Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson.

Toothaker urged jurors to consider not only testimony of witnesses, but also inconsistencies that have arisen in some witness’ statements. Toothaker particularly noted that Hofland is trying to show that because the area where he was stopped during the traffic detail was not very well lit, Danielson could have made a mistake when she identified the object in Hofland’s hand as a gun.

“That’s the factual dispute you’re going to decide,” said Toothaker. “…What did people see? Was [Danielson] mistaken?”

Counts three through seven, said Toothaker, are all charges of threatening that resulted from allegations that Hofland pointed a handgun at several people — including bus driver Glen Larrabee and physical education teacher Dan Campbell — while he was at Stockton Springs Elementary School on the morning of Oct. 31, 2008.

“Certain people saw certain things,” said Toothaker. “And that’s what [Hofland] wants you to do, compare and contrast the testimony.”

Toothaker likened Hofland’s situation to a bank robbery, where witnesses interviewed after the event can clearly describe the gun they saw in the bank but cannot describe the person who was committing the crime.

Count eight, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, has since been dismissed because it was an erroneous duplication of the same charge, said Toothaker.

Toothaker also addressed count two, a charge of criminal restraint, at which time he cautioned the jurors again to look past witness testimony and find the facts in the case. Toothaker used the example of Larrabee’s testimony, when Larrabee made several references to Hofland pointing a gun at him.

“The bus driver says that’s what happened, but don’t take for granted that what he says is true,” said Toothaker.

Counts nine through 41, said Toothaker, are all concerning children Hofland encountered at SSES. There are three charges next to the name of each child involved, 11 in all. For each youth, Toothaker said, Hofland faces two counts of kidnapping and one charge of criminal restraint.

“Let me tell you what kidnapping is,” said Toothaker.

Toothaker referenced the case of the Lindbergh baby — the 1932 kidnapping of the young son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh — as an example of a “classic kidnapping” case, in that a person came into the Lindbergh home, took the child and left a ransom note.

“Not the case here,” said Toothaker.

Toothaker said every one of the charges concerning the schoolchildren focus on restraint, and Toothaker argued that since there is no evidence suggesting Hofland was keeping the children against their will, those charges do not apply.

Toothaker referenced testimony from one of the children who took the witness stand Thursday, Jan. 20, asking jurors if they recalled the youth stating Hofland never told the children they had to remain in the classroom. Toothaker also referred to testimony from the children that showed Hofland allowed some children to leave the classroom if they expressed a desire to do so.

Toothaker said under the law, kidnapping means a person restrains another person, either to obtain a ransom or reward, to hurt or terrorize another person, to facilitate the commission of another crime, to interfere with government or political activities or to use another person as a shield or hostage. The last example, Toothaker said, is what the state is trying to prove Hofland was doing when he entered the school Oct. 31, 2008.

The secondary kidnapping charges that are related to the children involved in the hostage event at the school, said Toothaker, state Hofland exposed the children to “serious risk of bodily injury” through his actions at the school.

“With all of these charges, you’re really considering what was his intent,” said Toothaker. “If you find that was not his intent with any of those kids, [the charges] go.”

Toothaker also addressed the legal definition of restraint. Toothaker defined restraint, under the law, as an effort to “restrict the movements of another person without their consent.” The law also states restraint can mean moving an unwilling person from their home, or forcing an unwilling person to move “a substantial distance.” Toothaker said the law also notes that in order for a person to be restrained, they must be confined for “a substantial period.”

“You have to find that there was a restriction of movement,” said Toothaker. “Not, ‘You can leave,’ or ‘I’m leaving, goodbye’. That’s not restriction; there has to be some active restraint on a person.”

Toothaker asked the jury to consider whether or not Hofland’s actions concerning the children at the school constituted a legal restriction for a substantial period of time.

“Legally, we don’t feel you can find as a matter of fact that there was a restraint here,” said Toothaker. “If that is your finding, none of the kidnapping charges apply.”

Toothaker mentioned despite Hofland’s claims he never pointed a gun at anyone, witnesses who testified during the last two weeks indicted Hofland had pointed a gun at them.

“That’s how facts are decided, you listen to every version,” he said. “… It’s human nature. Different words, different perceptions, and everyone saw something different at the school.”

Toothaker closed by advising jurors to carefully weigh the law when deciding the fate of his client.

“You have to do something more than just sitting in a room,” said Toothaker.

Conflict of interest concern arises

Hofland called the first witnesses for the defense Tuesday morning, a process that went relatively quickly compared to the lengthy questioning of some of the state’s witnesses during the first weeks of the trial.

The first witness for the defense was Waldo County Regional Communications Center Director Owen Smith.

Initially, Hofland asked Smith how someone might obtain records of incoming and outgoing calls from WCRCC, but that line of questioning was met with an objection from District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau. Hjlem sustained the objection.

Hofland attempted to tell the judge his questioning had to do with his inability to obtain dispatch records for use at his trial despite multiple efforts, but that argument stalled when Hjelm reminded Hofland that Rushlau’s objection had been sustained.

Hofland asked Smith why one particular supervisor at WCRCC, Mike Larrivee, was in charge of obtaining his discovery during the last two years, including Hofland’s requests for various audio recordings of calls from the dispatch center on the night of Oct. 23 and 24, 2008, and the morning of Oct. 31, 2008.

Smith said Larrivee typically handles all requests for records, written or audio.

Larrivee’s work as a reserve Searsport Police Officer was another bone of contention for Hofland, who asked Smith if he ever felt Larrivee’s role as an officer was a conflict of interest.

“No,” replied Smith.

At one point, Hofland offered Smith a copy of a report from Searsport Police Department that included calls logged at the dispatch center and asked Smith to review it.

Smith said he did not initially recognize the document because the dispatch logs were in a different format than what would be produced at WCRCC, but said he recognized that it was a copy of a dispatch log with “many entries.”

Hofland asked how difficult it would be to obtain call records if the person requesting the information provided a particular date and time of interest, and Smith said that information should be easy to produce.

During cross examination, Rushlau asked Smith few questions, and most of them were focused on Larrivee’s work for the dispatch center.

Smith said Larrivee has been working at WCRCC for the last seven years and he has always handled requests for records.

Rushlau asked Smith if it ever concerned him that Larrivee also worked as a reserve Searsport officer, and specifically, if Smith thought that constituted a conflict of interest.

“No, it did not,” said Smith.

Many witnesses offer brief accounts

WCRCC dispatcher Arthur Butler also took the stand, and like many of the witnesses who addressed the court Tuesday, his testimony was brief and triggered no questions from Rushlau.

Hofland asked Butler how long the entire incident at Stockton Springs Elementary School lasted.

“The whole incident lasted approximately half an hour or less,” said Butler.

The defense also called Carol Kinsey. Kinsey offered about five minutes of testimony largely focused on Hofland’s vehicle and his dog, a golden-colored canine, who Kinsey identified from a photograph as being named Opal.

“Have you known me for perhaps several years?” asked Hofland.

“A few,” said Kinsey.

“Do you recall the car I drove?” asked Hofland.

Kinsey recalled Hofland driving a Subaru wagon, and when asked if she recalled the color, Kinsey said she thought it was “greenish gold.”

After Kinsey identified the dog from a photograph that Hofland produced, Hofland asked Kinsey if she ever remembered him having a cell phone.

“I seem to remember you in your car on a cell phone,” said Kinsey.

Hofland asked if Kinsey remembered how he carried it, but Kinsey did not remember.

Rushlau opted not to cross-examine Kinsey, nor did he question the next witness for the defense, Hofland’s former landlord, Carlton Wiggin.

“Do you recall, before I went out west, me asking you if I could store some of my property on your property?” asked Hofland.

“Yes,” said Wiggin.

Hofland asked Wiggin if he remembered when he returned to Maine, and Wiggin said he was unsure how long Hofland was away.

Wiggin testified that he remembered Hofland driving a green Subaru wagon. When Hofland presented Wiggin with a Tracfone-type cell phone, Wiggin recognized the phone as similar to the one Hofland used.

“Do you remember my dog?” asked Hofland.

“Yes,” replied Wiggin.

“Do you remember her name, by chance?”

“No, I’m sorry I don’t,” said Wiggin.

Michelle Picard, an employee at Belfast Free Library, was also a witness for the defense. Picard was on the witness stand briefly, and she spent most of that time fielding questions from Hofland about how they know one another.

Picard said she’s known Hofland for about five years, and that she knew him as a patron at the library. While at the library, Picard said Hofland often brought in a laptop computer and conducted work for his divorce case.

“Did I also do a lot of work for a friend of yours?” asked Hofland.

“Yes,” said Picard.

Picard was also able to identify Hofland’s dog from a photograph, and recalled that the animal went everywhere Hofland went.

Hofland asked Picard to identify the jacket he routinely wore through the time she’d known him, and he put on a dark blue ski jacket. He then asked Picard if she recalled his jacket looking something like the one he had on in the courtroom.

“That one looks more waterproof,” said Picard.

Hofland also asked Picard if she remembered him riding in a car with her and some friends, and Picard said she did.

“Was I wearing a seat belt?” asked Hofland.

“I don’t recall,” said Picard.

“Is it fair to say that you thought I was a fairly decent person?” asked Hofland, a question that Rushlau objected to immediately. Hjelm sustained the prosecutor’s objection.

Picard also said she recalled Hofland used a Tracfone, and that he usually carried it in a dark-colored case that he clipped to his belt.

Rushlau asked Picard if she remembered Hofland having any other kind of cell phone aside from the Tracfone, and Picard said she did not.

Rob Manner, another acquaintance of Hofland’s and also Picard’s significant other, told the jury he had worked with Hofland within the past six or seven years, and said he remembered Hofland wearing three types of coats: a blue parka with a hood, a leather jacket in the warmer months, and a ski coat that looked similar to the one Hofland donned on the courtroom.

Hofland asked Manner about his seat belt use.

“I always wore my seat belt when I drove?” asked Hofland.

“Yes,” said Manner.

Manner recalled Hofland’s car as being a “silvery-greenish” color, and that the interior was a light color.

“Do you remember the color of the seat belts?”

“No,” replied Manner.

Rushlau asked Manner if he had ever seen Hofland use a flip-style cell phone, but Manner said he did not remember.

Janet Williams, a woman who said she’s known Hofland for a few years, testified she recalled seeing Hofland carrying his cell phone in a holder on his belt, and described the belt as “black leather.”

David Lindahl, a transport officer with Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, was the final witness to take the stand for the defense Tuesday, and his testimony lasted less than 15 minutes.

Hofland asked Lindahl if he used a Tracfone as part of his duties for the county, and Lindahl said he did. Hofland at one point asked Lindahl if he remembered Hofland asking to use his cell phone as an exhibit at trial, but Lindahl did not recall that inquiry.

Hofland began to ask Lindahl specific questions about his service weapon, but those questions were met with an objection from Rushlau. Hjelm sustained Rushlau’s motion.

Focused on the firearm

Katie Dakin, another WCRCC dispatcher, spent much of her time on the stand reliving the evening of Oct. 23 and 24, 2008, the night Hofland allegedly pointed a gun at Danielson.

Hofland played a recording of a call between Dakin and local private investigator Gary Boynton. In the call Boynton appeared to be familiar with Hofland, describing him as a man who “thinks he’s smarter than everyone else” and who commonly carries a gun.

In the recording, Boynton told Dakin that Hofland had been known to carry a Glock 40 as well as a 9-mm handgun.

Hofland then played another recording of a conversation between Dakin, Maine State Police Detective Jason Andrews and Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye. In that call, Dakin is heard telling the officers what she had just learned from Boynton.

“Do you know why Gary Boynton tried to reach you specifically?” asked Hofland.

“Because I was the one trying to get a hold of him,” said Dakin.

“Did Jason Andrews say why it was important for you to reach Gary Boynton?” asked Hofland.

Dakin answered “yes,” but Rushlau quickly objected to Hofland’s questioning. The judge sustained that objection.

“Did Jason Andrews believe Gary Boynton had information that other law enforcement officers did not have?” asked Hofland.

Again, Rushlau objected and Hjlem sustained the prosecutor’s motion.

Involving the children

Since some of the children who were involved in the hostage event at the school testified Thursday, Hofland has been working to bring more of the children into the courtroom to testify.

By the lunch break Tuesday, Hjelm had listened to some audio recordings of Maine State Police interviews with the children, and by Tuesday afternoon, Hjelm approved Hofland’s request to subpoena one of eight children who have not already served as witnesses.

Toothaker said he had the remaining seven subpoenas prepared in the event that Hjelm ordered him to bring the additional children in to testify.

Hofland said he was particularly interested in questioning the boy he was allegedly holding onto while speaking with Larrabee, but acknowledged that there were “issues” preventing that from happening.

In all, Hofland expressed hope that Hjelm would allow testimony from two more of the children involved in the hostage event.

Hjelm said he expected to make a decision on the matter by the time the trial resumed Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Winding down

As Hjelm dismissed the jury for the day, he noted that testimony should wrap up soon and said he expects the case to be handed to the jury for deliberations by the end of the week.

Hofland indicated in court he will take the stand in his own defense.