Back on May 15th police in the town of Berwick, Maine responded to reports of shots fired at a residence. When officers arrived they found two people with gunshot wounds; the 25-year-old homeowner as well as 41-year-old Edward Badeau, who did not live at the home. Badeau was taken to a hospital just across the border in Dover, New Hampshire where he soon passed away from his injuries, while the homeowner underwent surgery for his injuries at another New Hampshire hospital not far away.
Details of the shooting have remained few and far between in the weeks since, with the Berwick police chief complaining at one point that the state’s Attorney General’s Office was not acting in a timely manner in releasing information about the case. The AG’s office released a statement not long afterwards noting that there was no continued danger to the community, but declined to provide any more information about the incident… until now.
On Tuesday the AG’s office finally let loose with some facts, the most important of which is that the homeowner in this case was the victim, and will not be facing any charges for defending himself in his home.
Edward Badeau, 41, of Berwick went to the School Street home of 25-year-old Christopher Utt about 9:03 a.m. on May 13, and fired his gun into the air several times after exiting his vehicle, according to Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Badeau then forced his way into Utt’s home, and both men exchanged gunfire at the threshold of Utt’s room, Moss said Tuesday afternoon.
… The New Hampshire medical examiner’s office ruled Badeau’s death a homicide, but after a review, the Maine attorney general’s office ruled Utt acted in self-defense and will not face charges in Badeau’s death, Moss said.
Utt is still recovering from his injuries.
Badeau’s death was a homicide, so it’s not like the M.E. got that wrong. It’s just that the homicide was the result of a justifiable use of force by someone who reasonably believed that his life was in danger. Given the evidence, that shouldn’t have been a particularly difficult determination to reach, at least the Attorney General has now made it official.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the circumstances of the shooting, including why Badeau showed up at the home and started blasting away into the sky before forcing his way into the younger man’s home. Was this a random encounter, was Badeau suffering from a mental break, or was this a targeted attack by someone who knew exactly what they were doing?
Regardless of what the answers might be, Badeau had no right to break into another person’s home and assault the resident inside, while the homeowner had every right to protect himself from an armed intruder. I’m glad that Utt has finally been cleared of any wrongdoing for defending himself, but I still wonder what took so long for the AG’s office to publicly exonerate Utt of any charges, as well as when, exactly, investigators concluded that he was acting in self-defense.