Date Published: Thu, 03/09/2006
By Mary Ann Bragg
BARNSTABLE — Without a doubt there were uncomfortable moments in the courtroom last Wednesday in the trial of Nathan Miksch, a former resident of Provincetown who was charged with first-degree murder there in 2003.
Jurors learned that, after the murder, Miksch had at least two casual sex dates in the bedroom where he allegedly killed victim Timothy Maguire, and that Maguire’s body was likely a few feet away in a closet.
Jurors learned that a local cabdriver picked Miksch up in his taxi for sex a few hours before the alleged killing, and that that liaison and others may have provoked an emotional response from Maguire over the two men’s strained relationship, one that had turned platonic.
Jurors also learned that a housemate, Paul Davis, heard rustling, thumping and banging noises in the Conwell Street condominium at around 4 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003, and that Davis then saw Miksch alone in the kitchen later and asked how he was doing. “Not so good,” was Miksch’s reply.
Maguire, who was 36 at the time of his death, likely died in his own bedroom sometime shortly after 4 a.m. on that Saturday, according to the testimony.
Assistant District Attorney Sharon Thibeault sought on Wednesday to portray Miksch as being sober and purposeful during those hours. Defense attorney Drew Segadelli tried to undercut that by grilling witnesses on their alcohol and drug use, and by referring to known behaviors associated with use of crystal meth.
The trial is in Barnstable Superior Court where testimony ended Tuesday and a verdict is expected later this week.
The events leading up to the killing reach back, in the testimony, to the early hours of Friday, Oct. 24, 2003, in a tangle of conflicting times.
Miksch first arrived at the condo on Friday after midnight, at the invitation of Maguire, and he then slept for more than 12 hours. Miksch left the condo at around 11 p.m. Friday night to meet a man for pre-arranged sex. He returned to the condo by cab at around 2 a.m., on what was then Saturday morning. He left again at 3:30 a.m. to have sex with the cabdriver in a nearby cemetery, and returned around 3:45 a.m.
Around 4 a.m., housemate Paul Davis, who was in the kitchen downstairs, heard thumping, rustling and banging noises. Likewise housemate Erik Ovalle, who was on the third floor, heard a loud thump and voices. He walked downstairs and then decided to go back upstairs.
Davis said he later spoke to Miksch alone in the kitchen as well.
As the sun came up on Saturday, the first witness to see Miksch was a tall, thin man, Alexander Creighton of Lincoln, who made arrangements on the Internet at 6 a.m. to meet Miksch for sex. He showed up at the condo at 8 a.m., stayed for an hour with Miksch alone in Maguire’s bedroom. Creighton described Miksch as passive, seemingly tired and having explained he was up packing all night.
The next witness who saw Miksch was a part-time worker at the Foley House, Peter Donnelly, at around 5:30 p.m. Foley House is a residence for HIV-positive individuals in Provincetown, and Miksch had a room there. When Miksch left at 8 p.m. Donnelly wrote in the log that he seemed “in good spirits.”
Another witness, Michael Fortunato, now of Connecticut, arrived at the condo on Conwell Street at around 8:30 p.m., having made arrangements with Miksch on the Internet that morning for sex. Fortunato went to Maguire’s bedroom where he saw Miksch and another man on the bed. Fortunato stayed for half-an-hour. He said Miksch seemed strung out; he added that Miksch said Maguire was in New York.
Later Saturday night, Miksch hailed a cab to find a liquor store but was unsuccessful, and he was let off at the Atlantic House bar in Provincetown, which many gay men frequent. A bartender there testified that Miksch appeared sober but crying at times, and that he mingled with the group of regulars. A friend of Miksch’s who was at the bar said he gave Miksch a hug and that Miksch made “an off-color comment that he’d done something and I probably wouldn’t see him for a while.”
A second person at the bar, Tim Hazel, who knew Miksch as a friend and also as the housing director at Foley House, said Miksch was emotional and frenetic, and likely high on drugs. Miksch also told Hazel he had done a “bad thing,” though Hazel testified that he thought Miksch meant he had fallen back into drug and alcohol use.
(In testimony last Wednesday and Thursday from both Hazel and Dr. Leonard Alberts of Provincetown, Miksch was described as trying to wean himself off drugs and alcohol after two emergency hospitalizations during the summer of 2003 related to the use of crystal meth. Miksch needed to be off crystal meth before he could obtain medications he needed for his HIV-positive status, Alberts testified.)
After the A-House closed, Miksch and others, including Hazel and Donnelly, went to an after-hours party in Provincetown, where one witness described Miksch as fidgety and distracted. Miksch, Hazel and Donnelly then went to Hazel’s house in Provincetown, which is where Miksch slept overnight on Sunday and Monday nights prior to him being picked up by police there on Tuesday.
In observing Miksch at his home that first night, though, Hazel said he seemed depressed and sullen, looked shell-shocked and was sweating profusely.
At one point that night Miksch, Hazel and Donnelly had sex or began to have sex, Hazel testified. Defense attorney Segadelli then asked whether Hazel had thought Miksch was having another medical emergency related to crystal meth, whether Hazel thought to call an ambulance, whether he called Dr. Alberts the next day or, as an administrator at the Foley House, raised the issue with Miksch’s caseworker.
To each question Hazel answered no.
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