Franklin Countys First News

LaGasse pleads not guilty in Brochu murder case


Jeffrey LaGasse, 31, of New Portland, talks with defense attorney John Alsop in Somerset County Superior Court today. LaGasse entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of murder in the death of Louise Brochu.

SKOWHEGAN - The man accused of killing Louise Brochu in June 2007 entered a plea of not guilty in Somerset County Superior Court this morning.

Jeffrey LaGasse, 31, of New Portland, was indicted by a grand jury one week ago on a charge of murder, a Class A felony. LaGasse, currently incarcerated on unrelated charges since November 2007, will continue to be held on the murder charge without bail, as ordered by Justice John Nivison this morning, until a bail review hearing can be scheduled later.

According to the indictment, LaGasse was responsible for causing the death of Brochu on June 7, 2007. Several members of Brochu's family including her daughter Emily, 22, were present in the courtroom when LaGasse entered his not guilty plea. Brochu's older sister Lucy Comber of Greenville, cried silently during the short court proceeding.

Louise Brochu owned and operated Wood Flooring, a complex of buildings that housed a mill on Route 27. She lived alone in a house she had renovated on the property. LaGasse lived about one mile north from Brochu on Route 27 in an apartment over the former Wire Bridge Diner that since 2007 closed and then reopened this year as a convenience store.

Police said LaGasse was employed from time to time by Brochu at the flooring mill. LaGasse told reporters two years ago that he was the person who called police after visiting the mill complex grounds on June 8. He reportedly told police he was supposed to meet Louise Brochu that Saturday morning on June 8 but couldn't find her. Investigators later found her body on her property. Investigators and now prosecutors are not releasing information about how she was killed or any other details leading to a murder charge against LaGasse.

Lt. Gary Wright of the State Police said the charge brought against LaGasse was a combination of crime scene evidence and statements that accumulated over the two-year-period that made the case against LaGasse.

"This case never went cold," said the state's prosecutor Andrew Benson of the Attorney General's Office today. He added that details will emerge as the case moves through the court system.

Outside the courtroom, LaGasse, as he was being led by deputies for transport back to Somerset County jail, admitted he had known Brochu well but said he was innocent and didn't kill her.

In 2003, the Brochu brothers Jim, Guy, Luke with Louise, bought the New Portland Wood Flooring business at auction for reportedly $500,000. In 2005, Louise took over the flooring business as the sole owner.

After the hearing, Jim Brochu said police first told the family of the indictment against LaGasse in connection with his sister's murder after the grand jury rose. He said they didn't know that LaGasse was a suspect and added, "We'll just let the DA do his job."

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