DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Garland man, who was involved in a tense encounter with an Embden woman last fall in Elliotsville Township while he was on probation, was returned to prison on Friday to serve four years.
Mark A. Meech, 40, was convicted earlier this year of reckless conduct and criminal threatening after he encountered Sara Camenga, 48, on a popular hiking trail and later attempted to commandeer her vehicle.
At the time, Meech was on probation for a 2002 conviction on four counts of burglary and one count each of cruelty to animals and operating a motor vehicle after revocation. In that case, Meech and another man had burglarized four homes, and at one of the homes, Meech had shot and killed a dog and had seriously injured another dog. For his guilty plea on those earlier counts, Meech was sentenced to eight years in prison with all but four years suspended and he also was placed on probation for four years.
Both Camenga and the victim of the earlier case, Jan Ronco of Abbot, spoke during Friday’s sentencing hearing on the latest charges in Piscataquis County Superior Court.
“Mr. Meech has a pattern of continuing to proceed with bad decisions,” Ronco, whose house was burglarized and whose dogs were shot, said Friday.
Camenga said, “I feel sure if I had not been able to get away he would have done something awful to me; I believe Mark Meech intended to rape me.”
Because Meech re-offended while on probation, Justice William Anderson on Friday revoked his probation and ordered Meech back to prison to serve the four years that had been suspended in the earlier case, as recommended by Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.
“I’m not really adding on, I am imposing that which could have been imposed in the first place,” Justice Alexander said in the courtroom.
Anderson also sentenced Meech to 364 days to the Department of Corrections on each of the reckless conduct and criminal threatening charges that stemmed from the hiking incident and he ordered restitution of $1,800 for the damage done to Camenga’s vehicle. That two-year sentence is to be served concurrently with the four-year jail term on the probation violation, meaning Meech will serve a total of four years.
Defense Attorney Randy Day of Garland said Friday he plans to file appeals in the case.
Camenga told Anderson on Friday she had feared for her life in the October 2007 incident.
In her earlier testimony, Camenga said she’d finished a solo hike of Borestone Mountain on Oct. 26 when she met Meech on the trail and he inquired whether the place was open. She answered him, continued to her vehicle and drove toward Barren Mountain and discovered that Meech’s vehicle was behind her, according to Camenga.
When Meech motioned for Camenga to stop, she did, she testified. She said Meech crouched down at her open window and gave her directions. She said she thanked him and he suddenly reached toward her with both hands and in a sexual tone said, “Hey, baby, what’s happening?”
Camenga earlier testified she panicked and accelerated the car as Meech was reaching for her. She said Meech held onto the car with his left hand and grabbed the steering wheel with his right hand. Camenga eventually steered her vehicle into some brush on the side of the road, knocking Meech off. She then drove to Monson where she called police.
Meech testified earlier that his leg had been bothering him so he sat down, had a cigarette and later returned to his vehicle after the encounter with Camenga at Borestone. He said he then headed to Slugundy Falls to go fishing when he saw that Camenga had taken a wrong turn.
Meech said he just wanted to give Camenga directions. He said he went to stand up after speaking to her, grabbed the middle part of her door to steady himself and apparently scared Camenga. He testified Camenga drove onto his shoelace and then she stepped on the gas and he started to fall back. He said Camenga was turning the wheel toward him and he felt he would get run over, so he turned the steering wheel toward the ditch. He said he finally let go and the tire ran over his lower leg.