Portland man convicted of killing Somali man freed after judge orders new trial

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Mark Cardilli Jr. leaves a courtroom following his bail hearing in Cumberland County Superior Court Friday, when he was freed on $20,000 cash bail. The hearing followed a ruling this week in which a Superior Court judge vacated Cardilli’s manslaughter conviction this week and granted him a new trial. The Office of the Maine Attorney general is appealing that ruling. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A Portland man who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting his sister’s boyfriend in 2019 was released on bail Friday after a judge ordered a new trial, sparking confusion and outrage from the victim's family.

Mark Cardilli Jr. says he killed Isahak Muse in self-defense during a confrontation that escalated after Muse refused to leave the Cadilli family's home when asked by the parents. Cadilli was 24 at the time, and Muse was 22.

A judge ruled this week that attorneys for Cadilli failed to “vigorously argue” the self-defense claim during the trial. His lawyers included an attorney who’s now a district judge.

The attorney general's office vowed Friday to appeal the judge's decision that vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial. In the meantime, a judge set bail at $20,000 for Cardilli and he was released Friday.

The shooting created tension in Portland’s Muslim community, with some calling it a hate crime by a white man against a Black Muslim.

In a statement, Muse's sister said she was heartbroken that Cardilli was released after serving less than half of a 7 1/2-year prison sentence.

“We are devastated and shocked to hear of this decision and can not understand how we could lose my little brother, but Cardilli will get to walk around free,” Asli Muse said. “He took my brother’s life, and was convicted of this. It is not fair that he barely served any time and can just walk away from it all. We can’t get my brother back.”

Cardilli, now 28, was originally charged with murder, but he was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The confrontation happened when the 22-year-old Muse, who was dating Cardilli’s 17-year-old sister but was barred by her bail conditions from being in her presence, refused to leave the family's Portland home at the request of her parents, witnesses testified. Pandemonium broke out, and Cardilli retrieved a handgun from his room.

Cardilli said he was assaulted by Muse, backed against a wall and in fear for his life when he fired three times with one bullet grazing Muse and two bullets hitting Muse, who died at the scene.

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