Newcastle man gets 60 years for two murders

Posted Jan. 30, 2009, at 8:39 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A 22-year-old Newcastle man who clubbed and stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death and fatally stabbed his father was sentenced to 60 years in prison on Friday despite his lawyer’s plea for leniency because of long-standing mental illness.

John A. Okie showed no emotion during his sentencing by Justice Joseph Jabar in Kennebec County Superior Court. Addressing the judge, Okie said the killings were a “terrible situation [that] should not have happened.”

“I’m deeply sorry,” he said.

A jury in December found Okie guilty of two counts of murder. The first killing happened on July 10, 2007, when he beat 19-year-old Alexandra “Aleigh” Mills with a piece of wood from a stairway banister, cut her throat and left her body in her Wayne home.

Six days later, he fatally stabbed his father, 59-year-old John S. Okie, during an argument in the family home in Newcastle. His mother discovered the body.

On Friday, Karen Okie could barely speak through her sobs. “It’s a terrible loss for all of us here,” she said, describing her son as “a very sick young man.”

Okie had been treated for mental illness in the years before the slayings. His mother told the court that she wishes the family had recognized the seriousness of his illness, and “maybe we could have done something.”

Okie, who was dressed in bright orange prison garb and sat almost motionless with his eyes downcast throughout the hearing, showed “extreme cruelty” and “callousness” during the murders and lacked remorse for his crimes, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said.

Benson asked the judge to impose a sentence of 60 years for Mills’ death followed by 70 years for his father’s — for a total of 130 years in prison.

Tim Mills, Alexandra Mills’ father, said he regretted the state doesn’t have capital punishment but asked that Okie never be allowed to be free again.

Others spoke of her friendly, strong personality and tendency to care deeply for others. “My daughter touched so many more people than I knew,” said Donna Mills.

Okie’s attorney, Peter DeTroy, asked for a total sentence of 30 years. While acknowledging the loss of “two wonderful people,” DeTroy said Okie “had no history of rageful, hateful conduct.”

“This was an act that was fueled … by mental illness,” said DeTroy. He also asked the judge to take into account the defendant’s young age.

Jabar, acknowledging that “a dark cloud of mental illness hangs over the case,” said he was disturbed to see another murder case in Maine in which the mental health system failed to assess properly a risky patient. He also listed as mitigating factors Okie’s lack of a serious criminal history.

While saying a life sentence was not warranted in the case, Jabar sentenced Okie to 30 years, with no suspension, for Mills’ murder, followed by 30 years for Okie’s father’s killing.

The judge said that even with time off for good behavior, Okie will be in prison for at least 50 years, keeping him behind bars until at least age 72.

In Maine, the minimum sentence for murder is 25 years and the maximum penalty is life in prison. Appeals are obligatory in murder cases.

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