A Portland man who fatally shot his sister’s Somali boyfriend after an altercation in their Riverton home was found guilty of manslaughter Friday.
According to the Press Herald, Mark Cardilli Jr., 25, claimed he shot Isahak Muse, 22, on the grounds of self-defense during the confrontation.
Those claims were, however, thrown out by Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills. Mark was initially indicted by a grand jury on a murder charge.
The March 2019 incident reportedly occurred when Isahak visited his then 17-year-old girlfriend, Chelsey Cardilli, at her family home although her father declined her request for Isahak to come over.
Already in the house, her family reached a consensus that he could stay till 1 am but ended up overstaying. This resulted in an altercation between five people in the house.
Mark, who is an army veteran and just moved back home, subsequently went to his room to get a gun which he used to shoot Isahak in the back. Isahak had previously been ordered by the juvenile court to stay away from Chelsey but he continued seeing her.
The incident was partly captured by a surveillance system in the house with audio of Isahak asking “Why are you hurting me?” before the shooting.
Asked why he did not call 911 during the confrontation, Mark, during the trial, claimed he was unsure when police will respond to the report and thought Isahak would leave after seeing the gun, adding that he rather punched him in the face, the Press Herald reports.
“The reason why I shot was because I feared – I did not know how many more punches I could take – I thought if I dropped the gun, lost the gun, Mr. Muse would take it and turn it on me and my family,” he said.
Chelsey, who also testified during the trial, claimed her brother made racist comments about Somalis, Muslims and people of color, but her brother denied those accusations.
The judge, however, rejected much of her testimony, writing in her decision that her claims were not credible. She also made mention of Chelsey continuing to see Isahak despite the order by the juvenile court and called out the state for not obtaining a search warrant for her phone.
“The court has placed no weight or significance on the testimony of Chelsey Cardilli unless her testimony was corroborated by other credible testimony or by the exhibits,” Mills wrote, according to the Press Herald.
“The level of dysfunction in her relationship with her parents and in her life in general in March 2019 cannot be overstated. Rules, including those imposed by the juvenile justice system, meant nothing to her, and she ignored them. Yet the state asks the court to conclude that she will comply with the rule that she must tell the truth when under oath. Her demeanor on the witness stand was that of a witness striving to answer questions in a way she deemed prejudicial to defendant.”
The judge also said that Mark shooting Isahak was unreasonable. Mark’s defense, during the trial, based his actions on Maine’s law which allows people to use deadly force in their homes if there’s an intruder.
“The state did prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s beliefs which led to his conduct were objectively unreasonable,” Mills said. “That is what the law calls imperfect self-defense.”
One of Isahak’s sisters, after the verdict, told reporters they were hoping for a murder conviction but were satisfied he will serve time nonetheless.
“We’re not happy with the verdict because he did kill my brother in cold blood,” Isahak’s sister said. “At the end of the day, my brother is not going to come back.”
“They tried to portray him in a bad manner, but you can tell how many people were there that came out for Isahak, that loved him,” she added. “He will never be forgotten.”
Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin also said she believed Mark should have received a murder conviction.
“I believe this was murder, but we have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Robbin.
“What we did prove beyond a reasonable doubt was that his belief that he had to use a gun was unreasonable, and that was always our view. If you’re going to carry a gun in the state of Maine, you should know what the law is. You can’t shoot somebody because they’ve overstayed their welcome, and I do believe that’s what Mark Cardilli thought. I don’t believe he thought he was in fear of his life.”
Mark was taken into custody Friday. A date for his sentencing has, however, not been set.