The Portland landlord who was sentenced to three months for his role in Maine’s deadliest house fire in decades is now seeking a new trial — just days before he was set to begin his jail term, the Press Herald’s Edward Murphy reports.
In October, Gregory Nisbet was acquitted of six counts of manslaughter and convicted of one fire code violation, related to the size of the third-floor windows in his Noyes Street duplex. But Nisbet’s lawyer, Matthew Nichols, told the Press Herald that he was not given an important 2013 state document about the size of the windows until after his client was convicted. He now wants the case retried or the single charge dropped.
Nichols did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Nisbet was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for the single criminal conviction. Nichols told the Press Herald that the memo from State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas “probably would have changed the verdict in this case.”
The document that Nichols claims to have gotten late concerns the different requirements for window in homes built before and after 1976. But the fire marshal reportedly argued that the windows on the third floor of Nisbet’s building were too small either way.
Nisbet was set to start his sentence on Friday. — Jake Bleiberg
A day in the life of Portland, in 7 minutes — Troy Bennett got an early peek at a new music video from Sean Morin and Jay Brown:
At least a year in the making, the seven-minute mini film called “Music for Big Band” features an extended piece Morin wrote for The Fogcutters, a 19-piece band. The visuals include seemingly a million scenes from sunnier days downtown, shot and edited by Brown.
Maine’s population is up, thanks to people from away — Maine is one of only two states where people are dying faster than they are being born. Despite this grim statistic we managed to gain population over the last six years, the BDN’s Darren Fishell reports. The reason why is simple: immigration.
South Portland passes legal marijuana moratorium — Maine’s fourth largest city by population has enacted a temporary ban on the sale of recreational marijuana, the Press Herald’s Kate McCormick and Gillian Graham report. With the six-month moratorium, South Portland joins nearly two dozen other Maine communities in taking a cautious approach to the soon-to-be legal drug.
Portland’s first no-tip, cash-free cafe is now open — Baristas and Bites, the Fore Street restaurant that has banned tips, is now open in the Old Port.
Love Kupcakes owner Amy Alward caused a stir when she announced in September she would pay her employees more, add a surcharge and not allow tips. She was soon followed by Cara Stadler of Bao Bao Dumpling House,who pledged to add an 18 percent surcharge in December. The Portland restaurateurs are a step ahead of the Maine minimum wage increase, which voters passed in November to gradually raise hourly wages to $12 by 2020. — Kathleen Pierce
Tweet of the day
From David Harry. Happy holidays!
The Big Idea
OxyContin maker looks abroad as America struggles with opioid epidemic — The Los Angeles Times reports that prescriptions for OxyContin have dropped — almost 40 percent over the past six years. So the drug makers “are pursuing a new strategy: Put the painkiller that set off the U.S. opioid crisis into medicine cabinets around the world.”
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