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10/30/2013 2:00:00 PM
No Indictment on Criminal Threatening Charge Related to Alleged Jefferson Standoff
By Dominik Lobkowicz

A grand jury in Lincoln County Superior Court declined to indict a Jefferson man on the charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon related to an incident that occurred outside his home on Goose Hill Road and lead to an alleged standoff with law enforcement.

John Burbank, 34, was arrested by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in the afternoon of May 13, after a confrontation with a road crew.

An affidavit and request for a search warrant on the same date by LCSO Lt. Michael Murphy says Burbank was warned that morning by a deputy "not to harass or interfere with" the road crew.

In the affidavit, Murphy alleged Burbank returned to the work area that afternoon, armed with a pistol, confronting first a flagger and then Jefferson Road Commissioner Alan Johnston. Burbank was "yelling and threatening with his behaviors and mannerisms" and "appeared to be highly intoxicated at the time," the affidavit states.

Burbank returned to his home before deputies could arrive, and a perimeter was secured around the house by the LCSO, assisted by units from the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, according to a May 16 article in The Lincoln County News.

After a 45-minute negotiation, Burbank surrendered and was taken into custody, and later charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a Class C felony, and a civil violation of creating a police standoff.

When a grand jury failed to return an indictment on the criminal charge in September, a superior court justice issued an order on Sept. 19 discharging Burbank and any sureties.

As of Oct. 29, Burbank said despite the lack of indictment, none the items seized during the execution of a search warrant on the day he was arrested have not been returned to him, including some firearms which belong to his mother.

The search warrant was issued pursuant to Murphy's affidavit, and three pistols, four shotguns, and four rifles, along with ammunition and other items, were seized from the home, according to the crime scene evidence log.

"It's a sad case when a person has been found not guilty of a crime but still seems to be persecuted in the eyes of the district attorney and his property not returned," Burbank said.

Burbank, however, has not been found not guilty for the alleged crime, even though he has not been indicted.

Multiple attempts to reach Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright, who was handling the case, were unsuccessful, but District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau spoke generally about the case.

"Legally the state can present any criminal case to another grand jury in the future," Rushlau said Oct. 29.

If the prosecutor was unable to convince the requisite number of grand jurors of probable cause that the crime had occurred, generally speaking it would not be appropriate to present the case again, he said.

The only exception Rushlau could think of would be the emergence of significant new evidence in the case.

"The actually course of events for most cases is it would never happen," he said.

Rushlau said, again, in general terms, evidence is returned after it is evaluated to see if it belongs to another party, if it is evidence for another crime, or if it is contraband.

Burbank is contesting the alleged civil violation of creating a police standoff, and a trial is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at Lincoln County District Court.

According to state statute, a person has committed a civil violation of creating a police standoff if they: are barricaded as a result of their own actions; is or claims to be armed with a dangerous weapon; is instructed to leave the structure by law enforcement; and fails to leave the barricaded structure within 30 minutes of receiving such instruction.

The statute defines barricaded as: "a person is in a location made inaccessible to law enforcement and others by that person and that person is reasonably believed to have threatened suicide or threatened to inflict or has inflicted serious bodily injury or death on hostages, law enforcement officers or others."

In that matter of the alleged civil violation, Burbank pointed to the result of the grand jury's decision: "If they want to pursue a matter of civil discourse, then they should first look upon the crime that was first pursued," he said.

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