Murder suspect charged with violating bail rule

Posted Oct. 20, 2008, at 11:48 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

From Staff Reports

BANGOR, Maine — A LaGrange man charged last year with murdering his wife while she was hiding under the couple’s bed was back in Penobscot County Jail after being arrested Monday afternoon for violating a bail condition.

A dispatcher for the Maine State Police confirmed Monday evening that detectives with the department’s criminal investigation division had arrested Jeremy Hart, 35, that afternoon, but no other information was available.

An official at the jail in Bangor also confirmed that Hart had been taken to the facility at about 1:20 p.m. where he remained Monday night. The official said a bail condition had been violated but he did not know what it was.

Last Wednesday morning in Penobscot County Superior Court Hart pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shooting his wife, Kristen Smart Hart, who was 25 at the time of her death on Nov. 29, 2007.

Pending sentencing scheduled for Nov. 29, Hart had remained free on $100,000 cash bail posted in June by his father, Ron Hart of California.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson amended Hart’s bail condition on Oct. 15 to prohibit him from using illegal drugs or alcohol. Hart also was to be subject to random search and testing to see whether he was in compliance. Conditions set in January included no possession of weapons and no contact with witnesses or his three children.

In an interview with police a few days after his wife’s death, Hart admitted that he picked up his rifle, which was in the couple’s darkened bedroom, after he found a man sitting on his bed during a party.

A 25-year-old male party guest told investigators that he was in the bedroom “kissing” and “fondling” Kristen Hart when her husband entered the darkened bedroom. The man said that he “saw Jeremy fire two shots from a rifle out a window and that [he, the witness] went to the floor; that [he] heard more shots fired while he was on the floor,” according to court documents.

Detectives arrested Hart on Dec. 2 after they traced the trajectory of five bullets in the couple’s bedroom. The angles converged in the area toward the foot of the bed where Hart believed his wife to be, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Stephen Smith of Bangor said last Wednesday that Kristen Hart popped her head out from under the bed just after her husband pulled the trigger the last time.

“This was a really tragic accident,” Smith said. “These folks lived a lifestyle the average person wouldn’t understand. It’s fair to say that he certainly didn’t intend to kill his wife.”

Under the terms of a plea agreement made public last week, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson was to recommend that Hart serve 15 years in prison. Smith was expected to argue for a lesser sentence and most likely would ask that a portion of it be suspended.

The murder charge is expected to be dismissed after Hart is sentenced.

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