AUGUSTA, Maine — John A. Okie was found guilty of two counts of murder Friday, concluding an eight-day trial in which the jury heard conflicting testimony about the 22-year-old Newcastle man’s mental state at the time he killed his former girlfriend and his father.
Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar ordered Okie held in jail pending sentencing, which is tentatively set for Jan. 29. Okie faces 25 years to life on each count. An appeal of Friday’s verdict is expected.
The defense and the prosecution both agreed that Okie bludgeoned and stabbed 19-year-old Alexandra “Aleigh” Mills at her home in Wayne on July 10, 2007, before fatally stabbing 59-year-old John S. Okie in Newcastle six days later.
But the defense contended Okie was not criminally responsible for his actions because he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The prosecution contended Okie wasn’t delusional at the time of the killings and knew right from wrong.
“What is clear to us was the jury really followed the law,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, one of the state’s prosecutors, said after the verdict. “In our view, if you follow the law, there is no way you could have found him not criminally responsible by mental disease or defect. So, we feel the jury put their time and their effort into it and came up with the right verdict.”
Marchese said she was not surprised that it took the jury about 1½ hours to reach its verdict, saying, “I’ve been doing this a long time and I don’t second-guess how long it takes juries because you never know.”
Okie’s attorney, Peter DeTroy, said he was not shocked by the verdict.
“I take it as it is. It is certainly something that was a realistic possibility from the beginning,” DeTroy said. Appeals are obligatory in murder cases and this one is likely to be appealed on legal issues, he said.
“I think that the challenge throughout this case has been, as the state very accurately and ably pointed out in their case, it’s not simply a question of whether somebody is suffering psychoses or mental illness. It’s the question of whether it meets the legal definition of insanity under Maine law,” said DeTroy.
A statement by Karen Okie, mother of the defendant, read by DeTroy after the verdict, underscored her belief that her son’s untreated mental illness led to the twin tragedies.
“There are no winners or losers in this case. We have all lost so much. A darling young woman loved by many, a husband, friend and father and the promise of a young man’s future; they’re all gone. We grieve for each one. This trial has been a terrible ordeal for all and I’m sure everyone is glad it is over,” said the statement.
“What it has pointed out is the gross inadequacies of the mental health system in this state. Had we known the scope and depth of our son’s illness perhaps we wouldn’t be here now. We’ll never know,” said the statement, which concluded, “My heart goes out to the Mills family and friends” and asked for prayers “for all and Johnny.”
The family of Alexandra Mills was pleased with the verdict, Marchese said. The victim’s father, Timothy Mills, “was very grateful and appreciative.”