Man Acquitted of Triple MurderVICTORIA BRETT , Associated Press
Dec. 17, 1997 12:21 PM ET
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Sabato ``Sabino'' Raia admitted he shot three men to death outside his house on a summer night. Six months later, he is a free man, acquitted of murder, and authorities today urged there be no more violence.
``Not guilty on all counts? Come on, it was cold-blooded murder,'' Rocky Libby, a friend of one of the victims, said after Tuesday's verdict.
``This just is not justice. I can't believe it,'' said Christina Matthews, sister-in-law of victim Dana Matthews.
Authorities held a news conference today to appeal to all parties to remain calm.
``No one is to take the law into their own hands through retribution or retaliation,'' Police Chief Michael Chitwood said. ``We ask for cooperation these next few days.''
Raia's father, Sal Raia, said he hoped the verdict sends a message to the community and to the police. ``People have a right to be free and happy and know when they walk down the street, they will be protected,'' he said.
Raia, 27, testified he acted in self-defense when he shot Kevin Pinette, Nickolas Patenaude and Matthews in the head at close range the morning of June 24.
The night of the shootings, Raia said the men confronted him outside a bar and told him they were coming to his house to get back a CD player Patenaude had given to his ex-girlfriend, who was Raia's current girlfriend.
Raia was ready with a gun when the men arrived and said he began shooting when he saw one reach for what he believed was a weapon. It turned out one man was trying to flee in a car and another was urinating. They had no weapons.
Raia testified he did not think police could protect him against the three men, who had a history of violence and harassment. Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes said their criminal history coupled with the issue of self-defense made the case difficult to prosecute.
Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford told jurors earlier Tuesday to set aside their opinions about whether Raia was in danger when he fatally shot Pinette, 22, and Patenaude, 23, both of Portland, and Matthews, 24, of South Portland. He told them only to consider Raia's state of mind and what he believed to be true at the time.
Jurors were told they could acquit Raia if they found he acted out of a reasonable fear that the three men posed a threat of injury to him or to his girlfriend, Nicole Brown.