Thursday, December 20, 2001

Gorman back in Maine, claims innocence in murder probe

Published in the Current; co-written with Brendan Moran

The Scarborough man wanted for questioning in the murder of Amy St. Laurent has been brought back to Maine after fleeing, but his attorney has told police his client didn’t kill the woman.

Jeffrey “Russ” Gorman’s lawyer said Tuesday outside of the Cumberland County Courthouse that his client was “innocent” in the murder of Amy St. Laurent.

“He didn’t do it,” Clifford Strike told a reporter from the Portland Press Herald. “He is not responsible for Miss St. Laurent’s death.”

Although Gorman, 21, of Scarborough, has been named as a suspect in the case by the press since court documents linked him to the crime, the Portland Police haven’t charged anyone with the crime. They have said repeatedly that he is not a suspect in the case.

Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood said he expects to make an arrest in the “near future,” but declined to be specific.

“The person should know we’re coming,” said Chitwood.

Detectives continued to search the area off County Road where St. Laurent’s body was found for clues this week, but Chitwood did not say what, if anything, had been found.

“The investigation is being conducted methodically and professionally,” Chitwood said.

Gorman was arrested outside of Troy, Ala., last week, after a four-hour stand off, and extradited to Maine for probation violations in an unrelated theft.

“Maine authorities advised Troy police they needed to talk to Gorman in connection with a missing person case which allegedly occurred in October. The missing person’s body was later found in a small town near Portland, Maine,” read a press release from the Troy Police Department.

Chitwood refused to comment on the Alabama press release.

Gorman lived at 68 County Road in Scarborough for the past couple of years with his mother and other relatives.

The home is just a few hundred yards from where the body was found.

Gorman was born in Troy. He grew up and attended high school there, according to Sgt. Benny Scarbrough of the Troy Police Department.

Scarbrough knew of Gorman most of the time he was living in Troy. He knew when Gorman left Troy for Florida, only to return later.

“I don’t want to talk about anything while he was a juvenile,” said Scarbrough.

Gorman hadn’t been in Troy for more than a few weeks before police arrested him at an acquaintance’s home outside of Troy. Police got a tip that led them to the residence, after Gorman allegedly pulled a gun on someone outside a business in Troy.

Troy Police were able to evacuate everyone from the residence before the standoff.

But Gorman refused to be arrested for four hours.

Gorman was holding two guns. Scarbrough said he was cooperative and didn’t make any demands, other than asking for a phone. He didn’t threaten anyone, but did put the gun to his own head a couple of times.

Police negotiators refused to give Gorman a phone. Negotiations were broken off several times so that traffic could get through on the highway.

Gorman even held his guns out of sight as the traffic passed at the request of the police, according to Scarbrough.

Police negotiators eventually traded a cigarette for one of Gorman’s guns and ended the standoff peacefully.

The day after his arrest, Gorman waived extradition proceedings, speeding his return to Maine. He was flown back Dec. 14, escorted by officers from the Maine Department of Corrections.