BANGOR – The murder trial for a North Carolina man accused of shooting and robbing a Millinocket businessman and medical marijuana grower began Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
The testimony of the wife of homicide victim Wayne LaPierre is key to both the state and the defense in the murder trial for his accused killer.
Christopher Murray, 39, of Maxton, North Carolina is charged with murder, elevated aggravated assault and robbery in the shootings of both Wayne and Diem Lapierre on Dec. 19, 2017.
Wayne Lapierre died a few days later.
“It is a miracle that she is here because the defendant, Christopher Murray, shot her twice in the head and left her for dead,” said Bud Ellis, Assistant Attorney General who is prosecuting the case with Deputy District Attorney Lisa Marchese.
“He did this while Diem was begging for her life,” Ellis added later. “Begging not to be killed so her children would not lose their mother.”
The prosecutor says Murray and Tony Locklear, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to murder, elevated aggravated assault, and robbery for his role in the crime, went to the Lapierre’s home to get marijuana. They left with pot, cash, rifles and jewelry, Ellis told jurors in his opening statement.
“He and a man named Tony Locklear, who we will discuss, left Diem and Wayne for dead on the floor of the basement, the basement bedroom,” Ellis said. “Unfortunately for Mr. Murray, Diem survived.”
Locklear’s daughter, Alexis Locklear, also pleaded guilty last week to her role in the home invasion. She entered a guilty plea to felony robbery and in a plea agreement with the state will get “time served” or about a year, for testifying against Murray, who was her boyfriend at the time.
Before the first witness took the stand on Monday, the state played the 911 call made by Diem LaPierre. In it, she reports being “hit” in a fairly thick Taiwanese accent. In the affidavit, she claims Murray shot her in the head.
“With respect to Diem, I would ask, when you are listening to her testimony pay particular attention to what Diem said and when,” defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker said in his opening arguments.
“You will hear some comments she made on the 911 tape,” said Toothaker, who is co-council along with David Bate. “Then some people talked to her, then more people talked to her. Pay attention to what she said. It is crucial that you understand the sequence of events from her perspective.”
Diem LaPierre, who lost an eye after the shooting and still has two bullets in her head, is expected to testify Tuesday morning, officials say.