Not guilty

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Big news today.

What we’re talking about

Nearly two years after the Noyes Street fire killed six young adults, a verdict was issued today in the manslaughter trial of the landlord.

Gregory Nisbet was found not guilty on all counts of manslaughter, and all but one misdemeanor charge.

Jake reports:

In issuing his verdict Friday, Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren said that six deaths in Maine’s deadliest fire in decades “were beyond tragic.” But Warren ruled that the court could not find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the deaths would not have occurred but for Nisbet’s actions.

Nisbet was likewise acquitted of all but one of the misdemeanor charges. The court found him guilty of a single fire code violation, tied to the windows on the third floor of his building at 20 Noyes St. being too small to offer a second means of escape to tenants.

As the verdict was issued, several of the family members of those killed in the fire walked swiftly out of the courtroom.

“No justice was served today,” said victim David Bragdon Jr.’s father, David Bragdon, who was not in court when the verdict was read. …

Nisbet, who did not speak publicly at the trial, left the courtroom through a private exit after being embraced by several supporters. …

The landlord has been “through two years of hell” and expressed remorse privately, [his lawyer Matthew] Nichols said.

Read the full story here.

A memorial for the victims is planned for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, in Portland’s Longfellow Park.

In other news

Portland’s only gay nightclub is closing. Here’s what that says about LGBTQ rights todayThe news was bittersweet for some gay Portlanders, who saw triumph in the changed attitudes that have made the city’s nightlife more welcoming but who also mourned the closing of an institution that provided community and acceptance when many in the country and city regarded being gay as transgressive.

A Maine woman sailed all over the world, even though her family died at sea — Troy continues his “permanent Portlanders” series:

Eunice Webster was born in North Yarmouth in 1814. She was the daughter of a sea captain. Her mother, father and brother all were lost at sea in 1854.

She married Captain Benjamin Webster in New York City in 1845. A few days later, she accompanied him to New Orleans aboard his ship, a brig named Levant.

She was very seasick the whole way.

But that also didn’t stop her from sticking with him for the next 51 years, sailing with him all over the Western Hemisphere

On trespassing call, Brewer police officer draws gun on reporters — Nick Sambides Jr. reports:

A Brewer police officer, in responding to a report of a daylight burglary at a notorious abandoned house on Thursday, drew his gun and confronted two Bangor Daily News journalists who were inspecting the home with a city official on a story assignment.

The Big Idea

This year should prove that we can’t rely on how we feel — Alex Steed writes:

Nuanced conversations about the Second Amendment are shut down because of the feeling that the right to own a gun is under attack. Unemployment has dropped by half since the height of the economic crisis, but things feel stagnant for many. The complicated realities of deeply flawed drug laws, economics and immigration policy don’t matter. White people feel under attack, so Trump focuses on our porous border.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.