Answering questions from the state prosecuting attorney, Chelsey Cardilli described a family rift between her father and 25-year-old brother who disapproved of her relationship with the 22-year-old Muse, a Somali immigrant.
“Once [Mark] went into the Army, that’s when everything changed between us,” Chelsey Cardilli testified, marking the first statements of the trial of her brother Mark Cardilli Jr., who is accused of fatally shooting Muse at the Cardilli family home on Milton Street during the early hours of March 16. Cardilli has pleaded not guilty, and claimed the act was in self-defense.
Cardilli waived his right to a jury, letting Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills determine the verdict in a weeklong trial in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland. Cardilli’s defense attorney has said that a judge is better equipped to understand state self-defense laws than a jury.
Chelsey Cardilli’s testimony on Monday described the night of the fatal altercation in detail. She also shared months of text messages between her and her father, who struggled to enforce parameters for the relationship between his then-17-year-old daughter and her older boyfriend.
Cardilli and Muse — whom she called “Ikey” — had been dating since late spring 2018. He had frequently visited Cardilli at her home during 2018 and early 2019 — three or four times a week according to Cardilli — and stayed the night, often against the wishes of her father.
The testimony also featured video clips of moments from the night of the shooting, including one of a conversation between Muse and Suzanne Cardilli — Mark and Chelsey’s mother — that brought Chelsey Cardilli to tears on the stand. Cardilli described her mother as having “become close” with Muse, and that their conversation that night was “funny and serious at the same time.”
Suzanne Cardilli had given permission for Muse to stay the night of the shooting, according to Chelsey Cardilli, which Mark Cardilli had disputed. The Cardilli men told Muse he had to leave and he refused. Muse, who lived in South Portland, had been dropped off at the house, which is located in the Riverton neighborhood, according to Cardilli Jr.’s deposition given to Portland Police hours after the incident, which was replayed Monday.
The altercation broke out around 1 a.m., between Mark Cardilli Jr. and his father on one side and Muse on the other, with Chelsey Cardilli fighting with her brother and father in an attempt to stop them. The Cardilli men told Muse to leave and pushed him toward the door. Muse went back to Chelsey Cardilli’s room to collect his phone.
Mark Cardilli Jr. had reappeared with a gun and said he would shoot Muse if he did not leave, according to Chelsey Cardilli. The two exchanged punches.
“They were about a foot away from each other,” Chelsey Cardilli said.
“Shoot me, it will be on the news,” Muse said while Mark Cardilli Jr. had pointed a gun at him, according to testimony from Chelsey Cardilli.
Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s medical examiner, said that traces of gunpowder found on the victim’s jacket suggested that two of the fatal bullets likely struck Muse at “very close range,” the gun perhaps even touching the fabric when shots were fired.