|Three men arrested for arson/murder|
|Fifteen months after my September 1983 meeting with the detectives
and nearly four years after Mike's murder three men were indicted
for Mike’s murder. The evening of December 5, 1984, my son, Derry, got a call from a friend after he saw the 11:00 pm news.
He told Derry that he was just watching the news and saw three men arrested
for Mike's murder. Derry went to the Bangor Daily News office as soon as the
newspaper for that day was printed and got a copy before coming to see me. The newspaper
that a Hancock County grand jury had handed up
indictments on December 5, 1984 against Roger Johnson, 35, William Meyers, 34, both of Winterport, and Richard Sargent,
33, of Poland.
None of the people, Percy Sargent, Lionel Cormier, Paul Pollard or Linda Gray who were with Mike just before his murder were mentioned. It was only from Pinkham’s information that I knew the man fleeing the murder scene was Paul Pollard. It was as though those people didn’t exist.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Goodwin reported that Mike was alive in the fire “Cochran died of carbon monoxide inhalation, or smoke inhalation.”
Neither Goodwin nor Shuman said anything about the possibility of Mike suffering injuries before the fire, despite what I had learned from Fire Marshal Wilbur Ricker and Dr. Henry Ryan.
State unveils star witness
December 18, 1984, the Bangor Daily News reported that the state had unveiled its "star witness" at a bail hearing in Waldo County Superior Court. It also reported that prosecutors sought to prove “Cochran was killed because Johnson, Meyers, and Richard Sargent believed Cochran helped set up Sargent’s brother and another man for a drug arrest.”
There it was! What I had believed for nearly four years: the Maine DEA undercover bust had resulted in Mike’s murder.
It was reported that Sharon Sargent testified for more than three hours and that she “calmly described her life in the world of drugs and petty crime.” Only 24 years old, she was a mother of four, who was a frequent drug user. She had gone to jail twice on charges of theft and had served as a police informant often, according to the newspaper.
Mike informed on Percy Sargent
Sharon also testified that “Johnson, Meyers, and Richard Sargent began talking about their concern that Cochran informed on Percy and had turned state’s evidence on them.”
The article reported that Sharon said the three men left Johnson’s Winterport home to take care of Mike. She also implicated the three men in Mike’s escape. I knew that that part of Sharon Sargent’s information was absolutely false. I know for a fact that Linda Gray was the only person who helped Mike escape from the courthouse.
At the time, I believed Sharon Sargent was telling the truth, regardless of knowing her information about the three men being involved in Mike’s escape was false. I strongly believed her because she said that the three men killed Mike because they believed Mike informed on Percy Sargent’s drug deal. I also believed her because she said the men hit Mike in the head before setting the cottage on fire. Fire Inspector Ricker’s information that Mike was on the floor before the fire was set and Linda telling my sister that the police told her that Mike was knocked unconscious before the fire was set supported her story, I believed.
Defense attorneys' targeted Sharon’s credibility as a witness by bringing up her past and pointing out a number of discrepancies between Monday’s testimony and recorded statements given to police investigators earlier that year.
After Sharon’s testimony, Justice Donald G. Alexander said the question of granting defendants bail was close and difficult and delayed making a decision until Friday, December 21st. In asking that their clients be granted bail, the attorneys asked Justice Alexander to consider that although each man knew he was a subject of an investigation spanning several years, no one had attempted to flee. They described Sharon Sargent and the state’s case as not particularly persuasive. Alexander acknowledged the points raised by the defendants’ lawyers and agreed to reach a decision on the bail issue by the 21st of December. Following the five-hour hearing, the trio was escorted back to the Hancock County Jail.
I decided to write Judge Alexander to ask him not to allow the three men bail. I told him I believed Sharon Sargent’s story was credible because Mike was murdered approximately three hours after Percy Sargent’s drug arrest. I said that I didn’t think murderers should be allowed bail.
His response was dated January 4, 1985: “Thank you for your recent letter. I appreciate your concerns and interest in this matter. Obviously I cannot comment on the substance of the issues because of the currently pending case.”