Defendant charged in death of Oakfield man denied change of counsel

HOULTON, Maine — One of the three Massachusetts residents who was indicted last year in connection with the death of an Oakfield man unsuccessfully attempted to ditch his court appointed attorneys on Monday afternoon. 

An Aroostook County grand jury indicted Marcus Asante, 21, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in November 2016 on charges of intentional or knowing murder and robbery in connection with the death of Douglas Morin Jr., 31.

The grand jury also indicted Darin Goulding, 32, hometown not given, and Tia Leigh Ludwick, 23, of Leominster, Massachusetts, on one count each of felony murder and robbery. The crime happened on or about Oct. 16, 2016.

Asante appeared Monday before Aroostook County Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II in Houlton with one of his court appointed attorneys, Adam Swanson of Presque Isle. His other attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, participated by telephone. Asantes was immediately asked why he wanted new counsel.

Stewart noted that both attorneys were “highly qualified” and that Asante had to prove that their relationship was “irretrievably broken.”

“I can’t work with him any further,” Asante said, referring to Tzovarras. He had earlier presented the judge with the names of some attorneys in Portland to replace both Swanson and Tzovarras.

When prodded further by the judge, Asante added that Tzovarras had been asked to “look into a few issues in my defense and it didn’t happen.”

When pressed by the judge, Asante could not articulate specifically what those issues were.

Tzovarras told the judge that from his perspective, the defense was being prepared appropriately to the case. Both he and Swanson also told Stewart when asked that they could continue working on the case despite the defendant’s request.

Stewart quickly decided that Asante would stick with the attorneys he already had.

“You have the right to court appointed attorneys,” said Stewart. “But not the ones of your choice.”

Asante also decided during the hearing that he would no longer fight attempts by the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to collect his DNA and fingerprints for analysis. His attorneys had objected to the prosecution’s requests.

Morin Jr.’s body was found in a vehicle on PD Road in Sherman at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, about three hours after he was seen leaving home. Morin was a logging truck driver who was due to return to work after having been laid off for about a year, according to family members.  Several relatives were in court Monday.

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