William More FILE PHOTO

Convicted murderer William Morse drops appeal

PORTLAND — The man convicted in April of murdering a Trenton accountant and stealing $180,000 from the victim’s bank and investment accounts has decided to drop his appeal of that conviction in Maine Supreme Judicial Court, according to one of his attorneys, Jeffrey Toothaker.

Toothaker said last week that William Morse withdrew his appeal after a conversation where he was reminded of a significant hurdle to a successful conclusion to his appeal.

“I told him, ‘If you get your appeal, you have to go back to trial with a confession [on the record],’” Toothaker said.

Morse, at his July 2 sentencing in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court and against the advice of his attorneys, detailed how, in a fit of rage, he used his girlfriend’s .40 caliber handgun to kill 61-year-old Richard Bellittieri in July 2012.

“I pulled out the gun, and I blew Rick’s brains out,” Morse said. Two shots hit the victim in the head; a third hit him in the foot.

Morse had been hired to help work on the duplex Bellittieri was building in Trenton and was living on the property at the time of the murder. He continued to live in the unfinished duplex until his August 2013 arrest on a murder charge.

Morse did not take the stand during his trial. Toothaker and co-counsel David Bate maintained his innocence, claiming that the evidence against their client was circumstantial and suggesting others had a motive for committing the crime.

Morse was sentenced to 60 years in prison. At the time, Toothaker said it essentially was a life sentence; Morse is 45 years old and has serious health issues.

Toothaker said Morse also filed an appeal of his sentence with the supreme judicial court. The sentencing panel that considered the matter “quickly” rejected that appeal, Toothaker said.

Morse first came to the attention of police in July 2013 when he was arrested by Bar Harbor Police on charges that included operating while under the influence. At the time, Morse was driving a vehicle registered to Bellittieri and had in his possession documents, bank cards and other items belonging to the Trenton man. Maine State Police detectives began investigating after officers in Bar Harbor were unable to locate Bellittieri to find out if Morse had permission to drive the car.

During the murder trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Morse, after killing Bellittieri, raided his employer’s bank and investment accounts and used the money to buy vehicles, a boat, hot tub and live an extravagant lifestyle that earned him the nickname “Hundred Dollar Bill” for the tips he would leave local bartenders.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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