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Judge declares mistrial in case of Gardiner man accused of killing friend, attempting to kill another


The murder trial for Dylan Ketcham, right, has been deemed a mistrial. Ketcham, seen Tuesday on the first day of proceedings, is accused of murdering and attempting to murder two of his former friends in Gardiner in January 2020. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA  — The playing of gruesome video footage that disturbed jurors has led a judge to declare a mistrial in the murder trial of a Gardiner man accused of attacking two former friends, shooting and killing one and nearly severing the wrists of the other with a machete.

The videos, from the body cameras of Gardiner police as they arrived at what turned out to be a murder scene and tended to two blood-covered victims, were played in court on the first day of Dylan Ketcham’s trial on Tuesday. Jurors had not been asked, as part of the selection process, whether such videos would impact their decision-making in the case, prompting concerns that the trial would be unfair.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy declared the mistrial Wednesday morning after Ketcham’s defense lawyers moved that a mistrial be declared Tuesday afternoon.

Ketcham is facing charges of murder, attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault.

Murphy said in court Wednesday she could clearly see that some members of the jury were disturbed by the videos played from the body cameras of two Gardiner police officers who responded and tended to the late Jordan Johnson, whom Ketcham allegedly shot in the head and who later died, and Caleb Trudeau, whom Ketcham allegedly cut and hacked with a machete.

She said the court had not been alerted that such disturbing videos would be played in the trial and no questions were asked, as part of the screening and jury selection process, of jurors about whether viewing such videos would impact their ability to decide, in an unbiased fashion, whether Ketcham was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Murphy said she could see some jurors “were visibly disturbed and shaken by the playing of these videos, of real-time evidence that was very different from what we usually see in courtrooms.”

She added, later, “there were no questions asked of jurors,” about their potential reaction to seeing blood-filled videos. “In retrospect, that should have been asked of these jurors before they were selected.”

Murphy said the case would be rescheduled for a new trial as soon as possible.

Family members of the victims, in court for the trial, declined to comment on the mistrial.

This story will be updated.



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