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.
     “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 passed them,” Pollard said.
     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 for him.
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.
     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 damages. ...
       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 suspects.
     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 blood ... 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.]
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 said.
     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.