ELLSWORTH — Bar Harbor police found marijuana, synthetic marijuana and pills while executing a search warrant on the pickup truck driven by a Virginia man charged last month with manslaughter after striking and killing a pedestrian in a restaurant parking lot.
Justin Shell, 36, of Harrisonburg, Va., was charged with manslaughter and driving to endanger on Sept. 12, the same day his 2016 Dodge pickup swerved off Route 3 and into the parking lot of The Chart Room restaurant. The truck hit several parked vehicles and 76-year-old Connie Birkenmeier of Bar Harbor. Birkenmeier was pronounced dead at the scene.
Following the accident, a sample of Shell’s blood was taken and sent off for testing to see if drugs or alcohol might have been a factor in the accident. Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster said this week that it could take months for the results to be known.
The inventory of items in Shell’s truck found during the Sept. 14 execution of the search warrant and filed in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court lists several items that suggest the possibility of drug use being a factor. Police located three glass containers with marijuana, a “homemade drug pipe,” vape pipes, various unidentified pills and two 750 ml bottles of vodka.
Two pouches and an empty pouch of “botanical incense” and “herbal potpourri” also were located. These products generally are classified as synthetic cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic cannabinoids can cause serious mental and physical health problems that include vomiting, rapid heart rate and violent behavior. Court documents state that Shell appeared to be having a seizure when police arrived at the accident scene.