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Defense secretary’s brother cleared in shooting; 3 charged

March 1, 1997

BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ Defense Secretary William Cohen’s brother was defending himself when he shot an armed intruder, prosecutors said Friday as they announced charges against the wounded man and two others.

District Attorney Christopher Almy said the three suspects were taken into custody and an investigation produced ``no basis″ for charging Robert Cohen.

Cohen, 51, was cut twice with a knife during Tuesday night’s struggle with Michael Chasse, authorities said.

Chasse, 22, was released Friday from a hospital, where he had been treated for what police said were several wounds. Besides robbery and conspiracy, he was charged with aggravated assault and burglary.

Almy said John Pettegrow Jr., 19, of Bangor, and Kim Snow, 16, of Ellsworth were also charged with robbery and conspiracy.

In an affidavit, Detective David Clewley said a witness told police she overheard the trio on the day of the shooting talking about going to rob Cohen.

The witness said that about 90 minutes after the three left, Pettegrow and Snow returned, saying Chasse had been shot by Cohen and might be dead.

Pettegrow eventually admitted being involved, the affidavit said, telling the detective that he and Chasse went to Cohen’s door and were met with Cohen with a gun in his hand. Chasse tried to knock the gun out of Cohen’s hand and then forced his way in and was shot, the affidavit said.

In the same affidavit, the detective said Cohen told him Chasse forced his way in and cut Cohen with a knife, and Cohen shot him with a .22-caliber handgun.

``Cohen retreated back up the stairs and stated that Chasse followed him and cut him a second time with the knife, and Cohen shot at Chasse again, at which point Chasse collapsed and fell down the stairs into the basement of the house,″ Clewley said.

Almy said initial court appearances for the three defendants were pending.

The charges made no mention of the relationship of Chasse to the Cohen family. But Robert Cohen’s elder daughter, Lisa Cohen, said Chasse had harassed her father for months. She said he had become familiar with Cohen because he knew the younger Cohen daughter, 17-year-old Heather.

Cohen, who for a time managed the family’s baking business, was licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

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