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ROCKLAND – The two Rockland Police Officers who were terminated from the department in September 22 for allegedly beating to death several porcupines on more than one occasion with a baton and while on duty, will make their initial court appearance in January 2021.
Addison Cox and Michael Rolerson were charged with aggravated felony animal cruelty on Oct. 2. According to the complaint filed in Knox County Court, the felony charge falls under the Maine Legislature Statute, Title 17, law §1031 for cruelty to animals.
The court complaint states that the “men did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal; cause the death of an animal; or physically torture an animal.”
They were also charged with misdemeanor counts of night hunting.
Cox was additionally charged with a misdemeanor count of using artificial light to illuminate wild animals and Rolerson with unlawful possession of implements or aids, another misdemeanor charge.
The former officers will appear Jan. 7 in Knox County Unified Court for a dispositional conference. The officers were initially to have appeared in court Nov. 9, but their attorneys filed an appearance on behalf of their clients to wave their appearances.
The purpose of the dispositional conference is for the defense attorneys to meet with the prosecution and a judge and discuss the merits of the evidence, the defense, and any pretrial motions.
District Attorney Natasha Irving who assigned Assistant District Attorney, Michael Dumus in Sagadadoc County to prosecute the case, confirmed by email that the case will be presented to the grand jury, and from there the defendants will enter a plea.
The next session of the Knox County grand jury is scheduled for Jan. 5-6, 2021. Since the dispositional conference is scheduled for Jan. 7, the case will not be presented until the following session of the grand jury, probably in the early spring.
Justice Bruce Mallonee has been assigned to the case by the Chief Justice of the Maine Superior Court, Robert E. Mullen.
Attorney Bruce Merrill of Portland is representing Cox. Attorney Stephen C. Smith of Augusta is representing Rolerson.
In October, Smith entered a plea of not guilty on all charges in the complaint filed against Rolerson.
The Director of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vasselboro, Rick Desjardins, could not comment at this time about whether the officers have received any disciplinary action regarding their certifications as police officers. He confirmed that the next meeting of the full board is Jan. 15, 2021, and that is the earliest date any final outcomes will be made public.
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