A 69-year-old disabled veteran who shot an intruder in his Rockland, Maine, apartment in 2015 will not face any charges for his actions, the Knox County district attorney determined this week.
“Had this case gone to trial, the evidence would have raised issues related to self-defense and defense of premises,” said District Attorney Jonathan Liberman, the Bangor Daily News reported. “The standard of proof in criminal cases is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and I do not believe that we can meet that burden in this case.”
Attorney David Weyrens said Harvey Lembo, whom he represented, never felt he did anything wrong and was “grateful” for Liberman’s decision.
Lembo made headlines nearly two years ago when he shot Christopher Wildhaber, 47, just hours after purchasing a 7mm Russian-made handgun. Lembo made the purchase after his home had been broken into numerous times.
The Aug. 31, 2015, shooting occurred after Lembo was awakened around midnight by the sound of Wildhaber in his home then saw his shadow move in the darkness. Lembo grabbed his recently-purchased means of protection from under his pillow and confronted Wildhaber, who he found rummaging through his prescription pain medications, which had been stolen in the past.
“I told him to sit down while I called police or I would blow his brains out,” Lembo recalled.
Wildhaber did as instructed and sat on a coffee table as Lembo called the police. However, while Lembo was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, Wildhaber decided to jump up. Lembo promptly proved he wasn’t bluffing and fired a single shot at Wildhaber, who left a trail of blood as he ran out of the apartment through a back door.
Authorities located Wildhaber in a nearby wooded area a short time later and, after a brief struggle, apprehended him. Wildhaber, who claimed he was simply in the wrong apartment but too intoxicated to notice, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
But shortly after the break-in and subsequent shooting, Lembo was contacted by the property management company and told he was in violation of the house rules. He was given two options: Give up his gun or get out.
Lembo, however, fought back and filed a lawsuit against the property owner and the management company, citing a violation of his constitutional rights.
Initially, Lembo’s case was shot down, but the decision was appealed. Soon thereafter, the state passed legislation that would not allow rental property owners who receive government subsidies to ban tenants from possessing firearms, with the exception of owner-occupied properties with less than five units. Once the legislation was passed, the appeal filed on Lembo’s behalf was dropped.
Lembo remains in the apartment he’s called home for several years.