Hey all. Summer has reached my neck of the Maine woods, which means the birds are quieting (all paired off now), the lake beckons, and I’m out and about—when I’m not writing about fictional Maine crime (ONCE BURNED, McMorrow No. 10, May 2015 release by Islandport Press), and reading about the real thing.
I guess I’ve told you that I cull the newspaper crime reports for bits and pieces that I can use in my books (the screen shot below is just a glimpse of the stuff I squirrel away). An interesting crime, a bit of dialogue, a memorable face. Case in point: for a few months I’ve been following the triple murder case in Bangor, in which two drug dealers were charged with killing three young people—Nicolle Lugdon, Daniel Borders, and Lucas Toscano—and then burning the car containing their bodies.
Nicholas Sexton and Randall “Money” Daluz, from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, respectively, were charged with the cold-blooded killing. Three weeks ago, Daluz was convicted of the three murders and arson. Sexton was tagged with one murder and arson. Sexton testified against his buddy, saying Daluz killed all three and scared Sexton into torching the car and people. The jury didn’t buy it and they both were convicted—Daluz of three counts and Sexton of one. As Daluz said to Sexton in the courtroom when the verdicts were read, “It was all about you, bro.”
This one caught my attention for a couple of reasons: one, the brutality of the execution-style killings. Shooting three people who were by all accounts defenseless. Then burning them. For Maine, this was a shocker.
Reason number two: Daluz and Sexton were tried together.
I knew these guys were sunk as soon as Justice William Anderson, perhaps with Hartley and Lombard somewhere in the back of his mind, decided against separate trials. One trial meant that Daluz couldn’t get off by ratting out Sexton, and Sexton couldn’t get off by ratting out Daluz. Of course, the three victims didn’t shoot themselves and then set themselves on fire. So, you might say, how could these guys possibly walk?
With separate trials? Easy.
This brought me back to a case I watched closely as a reporter in 1990. Hubert Hartley, 18, and his half-brother Henry Lombard, 30, were tried separately in a double murder that took place on Thanksgiving Day. Two young guys were shot and killed in a farmhouse in Fairfield Center. The bodies and bloody couch cushions were hauled off in plastic bags and dumped in the woods. Hartley and Lombard were the only two survivors, along with Hartley’s pregnant 18-year-old girlfriend, who said she was upstairs when she heard gunshots. She said Hartley killed one, Lombard the other.
But both Hartley and Lombard testified in their own defense, pinning the killings on each other. Both juries found reasonable doubt and both men were acquitted. As in not guilty. As in, you can go home now. They later were convicted of federal firearms charges but murder? They pulled it off and skated, as they say.
I don’t write courtroom dramas but I do write about criminals and their lives. And I wonder to this day what Hartley and Lombard said to each other when they met after their trials. Did they high-five? Did one blame the other? What about the girlfriend? Did she flee for her life? Did she join a celebration? And the families of the victims? Did they consider taking justice into their own hands? How did they feel knowing that a killer or killers went free?
And our boys Sexton and Daluz? Something tells me they won’t be chillin’ and chatting about old times.
WMTW photo: Something tells me they won’t be chilling in prison, talking about old times.
Will they meet in prison? Will they be separated? Will one try to take the other out?
Chances are they’ll have a long time to plan their next move. Three cold-blooded murders? One? Either way, you’re going away for a very long time either way. See you when you’re old and gray—if ever.