| May 11, 1990, jury selection
The only record I have of the trial is Bangor Daily News
articles. The weekend of May 12-13, 1990, the paper reported "A panel of
six jurors was selected Friday in U. S. District Court in Bangor to hear
testimony in the civil case of a Bangor woman who claims that her son
was killed in a February 1981 fire in Lucerne by a man who admitted he
ran from the burning camp.
May 15, 1990, the Bangor Daily News reported the one day trial.
Det. Shuman sat in a front row seat and stared Pollard down
while he testified. During breaks in the trial, Shuman would take
Pollard in a room off the courtroom hall and shut the door.
Pollard admitted he was in the cabin at
the time of the fire that killed Micheal Cochran, 24, and then ran
into the woods when local firefighters arrived.
I believe Shuman instructed Pollard, while he had him in
a closed room at the courthouse, to say he had taken the polygraph tests
and passed because that was what Shuman always said to me — he passed
two polygraph tests— when I asked him why Pollard wasn't looked at.
“In any way, shape, or form did you start a fire at this
cabin?” asked the defendant’s attorney, Marvin Glazier of Bangor.
“No,” replied Pollard.
The defendant also said that he “had
taken two polygraph tests concerning the arson incident,”
and, “I was told by the police that I had
The plaintiff’s attorney Jed Davis of Augusta, however,
objected to the statement, and U.S. District Judge Clarence Newcomer
had it stricken from the record [but the jury had already heard it].
Never charged in connection with the fire, Pollard, now of
Alexandria, VA, is the defendant in the civil lawsuit brought by
Leola Cochran of Bangor, the victim’s mother.
Cochran is seeking damages based on emotional
distress. To bring suit I had to file for damages, but my reason for
suing Pollard was not for money, it was because he had taken the
life of my 24-year-old son and I believe the State of Maine covered
Testimony in the unusual civil case was
completed Monday [a one-day trial—after working for
more than a year gathering evidence for trial and
costing thousands of dollars], and the jury of five
women and one man is expected to begin its
deliberations Tuesday morning. The jury will decide
whether Leola Cochran proved that Pollard caused the
death of her son. If the jury finds that the cause
was proven, it then will decide on the appropriate
I took the stand for all of five-minutes and looked down on the face
of Det. Shuman who was sitting beside Paul Pollard. My couple of minutes
of testimony was not reported in the BDN article. I was so nervous when
I was called to testify that I can’t remember what I was asked or what I
Under questioning by the plaintiff’s
attorney, Pollard said he had been the driver in two
[armed] drug and money robberies that involved his
half-brother [Lionel Cormier] and one of the arson
He described waking up in a back bedroom of the
burning cabin, retrieving his clothes and
one boot from the
bedroom, and then running into the woods. ‘I just
panicked, I was scared,’ he said, adding that he
sat in the woods ‘for a good
four or five hours’ before walking to a nearby house
and calling his half-brother for a ride.
Pollard later [fled the State of Maine and] hid
in Rhode Island. During Monday’s testimony, retired
Lucerne Fire Chief Norman Herrin, the first
firefighter at the scene, testified
he saw a person walking rapidly
away from the cabin and in the act of what we might
call wiping his hands. Herrin and two other
fire investigators [MSP Cpl. Jamison & Fire Marshal
Ricker], all stated the fire
was started with an accelerant.
Two five-gallon gasoline cans and a kerosene
can were found at the scene.
Cpl. Allen Jamison of the Maine State Police
described finding Cochran’s body on top of some
glass fragments and a piece of clean carpet in the
front part of the cabin. “I
think the individual was in this position when the
fire started,” he said. Jamison also said
he didn’t think it was possible
for someone to have left the building and later
returned to it, as Pollard said he did, because of
the intense heat.
Retired State Fire Marshal Wilbur Ricker
testified he found tracks in
the woods near the cabin, made by someone wearing
two boots. [Disputing Pollard’s story of
losing one boot] He identified two gas cans
introduced by Davis and described finding the
kerosene can. [There was absolutely no mention of
gas being poured on Mike.]
In a videotaped deposition, a retired Maine
medical examiner, Dr. Ronald Roy, said that Cochran,
who had a fatal level of carbon monoxide in his
died from inhalation of
combustion products and carbon monoxide. He said
there was no trauma on Cochran’s body. The
medical examiner said he eventually concluded the
death was a homicide based on the fire marshal’s
findings. [Dr. Roy accepted 42-year veteran Fire
Marshal Ricker’s expert opinion that the fire was
arson but refused to accept Ricker’s expert opinion
that gas had been poured on Mike.]
After the one day trial was over, I called
the court to get the court transcripts but was told that the first copy
was very expensive. I was told if someone (like the State of Maine)
ordered the first copy then the next copy would be less expensive. But
no one ever ordered the first transcript of the trial.
A few years later when I finally could
afford the cost of having the trial testimony transcribed, I called the
US District Court only to be told that all the testimony from my trial
had been destroyed.
Looking down on the face of Det. Shuman sitting beside
Paul Pollard during the short while I was on the stand will forever be
etched in my mind. Why was that allowed? How would that look to a jury
having a Maine State Police detective sitting beside the man I was suing
for the murder of my son. I doubt that they saw him take Pollard, during
breaks in the trial, in a room off the hall and shut the door.