|Owen Pollard's deposition
The numbers at the end of lines are page numbers from Pollard's
Owen Pollard testified that he was employed with the State of Maine as director of the Maine Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation until he moved to Oklahoma in January 1985. Owen was never married and had no children of his own when he took on the role of father because “he [Paul] had no father.” Owen never adopted Paul, but changed his name from Cormier to Pollard (not legally) when he was ten years old.
Popkin: "Can you give me your address."
Glazier: "We are not going to give you that."
Popkin: "What is the basis of the objection?"
Glazier: "I am not going to let anyone know where he lives; and, in fact, he was telling me this morning, to further amplify what went last time, he advised me that your client did try to contact him on numerous occasions and the last time used lies and deceit and got someone else involved to try to get my client to the phone; based on that we feel the less information your client has about my client is, the better off everyone is going to be."
Popkin: "Now, do you recall a time when he told you that there had been a fire at a camp he was staying in?"
"What do you recall about how you learned that? 30
"Well, let me think. He called and we talked and he said that he was in Rhode Island and that something had happened, I guess, that and we talked about what happened and he said that he thought somebody had tried to kill him. He had been in this cabin and the cabin burned and he ran from it in the night when the timbers were falling around him and that subsequently he had learned that somebody had -- that they found a body in the cabin or that somebody burned in the cabin and he said that -- that since he found that out, that he was going back to Maine and -- to do whatever it was he needed to do about that." 32
"Now, did he tell you who he thought might have tried to kill him?" 33
"I assumed that it was -- that it was Lionel. I can't say that he told me that specifically."
"But as a result of that conversation, at that time you concluded that it was Lionel."
"That was my impression. 33
"When Paul discussed this incident with you on the phone in California did he tell you that he had to get back into the cabin and run away with one boot off and one boot on?" 43
"He told me that he was in the cabin and woke up and found it crashing down, the flare and crashing down around him; and, as I recall, he said that he grabbed -- he found only one shoe and left with one shoe. That's how I recall." 43
"Have you ever met Detective Shuman of the Maine State Police?" 45
"When did you meet him?"
"I can recall -- Paul must have -- somewhere in that sequence he was back home and I remember of driving him to Bangor and -- because he needed to see Shuman, and I guess probably I met Shuman at that time. ... I can remember of taking him to Bangor for this trip and I remember that it -- what it was -- it was in relationship to, as I recall, in relation to the fire and that they questioned him about that; but I can't -- I can't put it in any date or -- I really can't. I just don't recall." 45
"Could this have been for a polygraph or lie detector exam?"
"It may have been. It may have been. I recall that somewhere in there and I suspect that might have been it." 46
"Now, now were you aware that Paul had a gun. a .357?"
"Yeah, I recall that he -- yes. Yeah."
"What do you remember about that and how you learned about it?'
"I must have learned about it somehow, as I recall, in relationship -- in relation to the charge, and I remember that it was just -- it was inconceivable to me that Paul had a gun. He never touched one, he never shot one, and I remember we talked about that and that I said, you know, that it was completely inconsistent with him to have one and he ought to get rid of it." 47
"Why was it so inconsistent with Paul to have a gun?'
"Paul, Paul to my knowledge, had never showed any interest in guns, had never shot a gun in his life, that I am aware of, who is -- you know, my awareness of Paul would have been he would have been frightened to even look at a gun, or touch a gun, and that seemed inconsistent."
" And were you aware that he had been involved in some robberies at that time, some armed robberies?"
"Absolutely not." 47
"He lived with you during some of that summer and then went to Boston in the fall?"
"I remember taking him down and getting him registered at the University of Massachusetts in Boston [Assumption College is a small, private, Catholic college in Worcester, MA."]
“Now, did there come a time when he was in Massachusetts that you became aware that he had some guns and dynamite that needed to be returned or taken up to Maine?” 48
“Yes. I recall that he knew of some that he thought—yeah.... I remember that it was -- that he had decided to leave the University of Massachusetts and that there had been -- he had terminated the rent or whatever with his apartment and had stored some things, and I subsequently remember that he told me—that seemed all fine, and so we were going to go get the things; and he told me that the lease of the place that he stored things was actually in Lionel’s name, but there were things of Paul’s there; and that was the first time I had known that there was any connection that Lionel had even been around, you know, in the Massachusetts area when Paul was there, and he told me that among other things of Lionel’s at that storage space, things of Lionel’s and things of his, were some guns and -- I never really saw them except the package. He said there were guns and ammunition there [Owen doesn’t mention the dynamite], and and I said -- and we agreed that something ought to be done with them, and so I called Marvin [Glazier] and asked what should be done with them and put them in the van that we were moving with and took them to Marvin.” 49
“And who was we?”
“Paul and I.”
“And have you ever heard anything more about that afterwards?” 50
“Never heard a word; never asked.”
“Now, do you recall Mrs. Cochran here, the plaintiff, calling you in March of 1988 [It was October 1987] on the telephone?” 51-52 1
“I specifically don’t. I remember that she called in a harassing way, time after time sometimes I would talk to her. Sometimes she didn’t even sound—she made no sense, and I would terminate the call. I avoided the calls to the extent that I could because I also knew that she had been—Paul had told me that she had been harassing him. I remember—the only conversation that I recall of speaking to her in any length was when I was duped into talking with her. I was on a business—it was after I’d left the state. I was on a business trip in either Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, I can’t remember which, and my young son at home, younger son took a call from a woman in Augusta and she told him that it was in relation to an individual that had been part of my—of our program here at the bureau, in relation to a case when I was—I think the terminology was when I was director of the bureau; so you know, obviously, I wouldn’t have talked about a case, but I thought that it might—it was something related to my professional—with my work ... so I called the number and got the lady’s name, who immediately turned me over to Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Cochran started to diatribe about a whole bunch of things. I listened to her because she—I finally—I knew who she was, obviously, and I was tired of getting all the calls at all times of the day and night that I either terminated or when—messages that she had called, and so I decided to listen to her; and, obviously I could relate to the fact that she had lost a son, that I could—I decided that I would at least express to her I was concerned for her for having lost a son.” 52 2
The recorded conversation between Owen and me was now an exhibit in my lawsuit and Attorney Popkin said "I'd like to take a break for a moment, give you this transcript, probably take a 15 minutes and take your time."
(Off the record.)
After Owen read the transcript of our conversation and returned to the deposition room, Popkin said, “Do you recognize that as a transcript of the conversation that you had with Lee Cochran?"
"Yes, essentially. I -- yes." 53
"Okay. Now, do you believe that Lionel Cormier was responsible for the fire that night?”
“Personally, I believe—I have no—I don’t have a lot of objective evidence to substantiate.”
“But what is your subjective belief.”
“I would say.”
"Now, during that conversation, when you read it, it's fair to say that there was good deal of talk about Lionel Cormier." 54
"It appears there was."
"Now, do you believe that Lionel Cormier was responsible for the fire that night?"
"Glazier: "Objection. Pure speculation."
"Personally I believe -- I have no -- I don't have a lot of objective evidence to substantiate."
"Personally you believe that Lionel set the fire and tried to kill Paul."
"Glazier: "Objection. Speculation."
"But that is your subjective belief."
"I would say." 54
"What did you mean by you thought it was some plea bargaining stuff? Can you explain that?" 57
“As best I can recall, what I must have been referring to was the trial of Lionel Cormier; and I was never clear how it all resolved. I remember being unclear of why, if he was being—as I—the trial, as I recall, was trying Lionel for murder. ...” 57
"Did you ever believe that there was some deal that had been made regarding even Paul's presence at the fire that night and the whole, you know, all of this conduct and his testimony regarding Lionel. that there was a deal that had been cut to let Paul out of any prosecution of him in regard to any of these incidents?" 57
"Glazier: I object. I object. The question makes no sense at all. What instances?"
"Well, you knew that Paul had been involved in a couple of armed robberies by his own admission, right?" 58
"I didn't know that."
"Did you know that Paul had been involved generally with Lionel in some illegal behavior?"
"No. I only knew that Paul had been living -- you know, had been living with Lionel for a period of time ..." 58
"So do you have any understanding that Paul was ever granted immunity from prosecution by the State of Maine?"
"Has Paul ever told you that he believed that Lionel tried to kill him that night or was responsible for the fire."
"I'm trying to think in terms of specifics. I certainly have that impression that Paul feels that." 59
"Now, that day that you said you met Shuman when you drove Paul up, can you tell me where you met Shuman, whether you spoke to him at any length or just shook hands with him or what?"
"All I recall is that I went in to see where Paul was going to be and saw Shuman and shook hands with him and left." 60
"Now, let me call your attention again to page 6 and the third OP from the top of the page where you say I'm sure he told all of that, I'm surprised they didn't do more about it."
"Well, as I would recall the context, I was saying that I'm sure Paul had told the authorities everything he knew about the situation and I -- and I assume what I was thinking was that he -- that Lionel had done it, and that was the context."
"And from what you knew that implicated Lionel. I'm just trying to get at this statement."
"And you felt somehow that Paul felt that way about Lionel, too."
"Yes. Yes." 61
“Were you aware that there was a forgery charge pending against Paul during this time?”
“I don’t remember when I actually became aware of it. I remember that there was a matter of a check that was drawn on—my recollection it was a check drawn on insufficient funds or some such thing.” 66 3
“When you were speaking to Mrs. Cochran during this conversation, somewhere you used the phrase that you felt that Paul wouldn’t shoot a bird. Do you recall reading that this morning?” 77
“I recall reading that this morning.”
“Why start talking about Paul shooting someone?”
“I—the only context—I think what I must have said was that Paul, he’s not a violent person in any way and that’s sort of a phraseology—what am I looking for, the word. It’s a phrase that I’d probably use to describe a peaceable person or a nonviolent person.”
Pollard said he did know that Paul had drug problems in 1980 and 1981. He said he recalled that Paul was “going to the University of Massachusetts. [Assumption College in Worcester, MA. is not the University of Massachusetts]. He came home for Christmas and I just had a sense that things weren’t well or right with him and he left like the day after Christmas to go back, I assumed to Massachusetts; and so I wrote a letter to him telling him that I sensed that all was not well with him, that I was really concerned about him and I was willing to help him in doing whatever he needed to do, but I’d have to know what it was. ... he reappeared and I attached his reappearance with having received the letter, but he hadn’t received it. ... He told me and very painfully that he had a problem with drugs, that he felt he was addicted and that he needed help.”
Owen said he first wanted Paul to talk with a psychiatrist he knew at Augusta General Hospital. He said he went with him to the hospital. The psychiatrist recommended Paul initially be hospitalized at Augusta General and some diagnostic work done and that he subsequently should go to the treatment unit at Seton Hospital in Waterville. Owen said Paul returned to school the following fall .
Murder of Owen Pollard
Twenty-two years after Pollard’s deposition was taken Owen Pollard was violently murdered in Norman, Oklahoma, the state he moved to after three innocent men were indicted for Mike’s murder.
I googled Owen Pollard’s name in 2013 and was shocked when information surfaced about his violent murder in 2011. The article was in "The Oklahoman" newspaper on December 2, 2011. It reported that two men had been formally charged with the death of Clair Owen Pollard. One man was 58 years old and had spent most of the last 30 years in prison for two murders in Texas and one in New Mexico. The police said the three murders he served time for were very similar to Owen Pollard’s murder. The previous victims were elderly, and the man admitted to committing them with the help of a teenaged boy. It was also a 19 year-old homeless teen who assisted the older man in killing Pollard. He was someone Pollard was trying to help. They were both charged with first-degree murder. It looked like there had been a struggle in the house where Pollard died of multiple stab wounds according to the news. He was severely beaten before he died. The 19 year-old testified that he tried to suffocate the victim but failed. He also admitted they stole Pollard's credit cards.
I emailed the reporter and he responded. He asked me to send him my phone number that he would love to speak with me and that he would tell me a story. I sent him my phone number and during our conversation he told me that he had covered Owen’s death and the prosecution of two men who were both eventually convicted in the killing. He said he had also been speaking on a regular basis with another one of Owen’s “sons,” who continuously implied that Owen was gay and may have sexually abused many young boys over the years. He said one of the “sons” was very bitter about Owen being portrayed as a victim. He wanted to do a story on it but his editors at the time didn’t want him trashing a dead 80-year-old.
I’ve wondered if Pollard ever thought of Mike while he was being murdered.
Clair Owen Pollard’s obituary said he was 80 when he died on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 and that he had been a resident of Norman, Oklahoma for nearly 30 years. After arriving in Oklahoma, Pollard joined the University of Oklahoma, College of Continuing Education where he conducted Executive Management training for Vocational Rehabilitation professionals throughout the country. Pollard retired from the University of Oklahoma after 20 years of service. Before leaving Maine he worked for the State of Maine, Department of Health and Human Services until his retirement in 1984. He held the positions of Supervisor, Rehabilitation Consultant, the Director of the Division of Eye Care and finally the Director of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation for the State of Maine. The obit said Pollard was survived by his sons, Tom Pollard, Paul Pollard and James Smith.