ELLSWORTH, Maine — When convicted murderer Kent Hanson was released in 2005 from a Vermont prison, he was free eight days before being picked up for stealing a pickup truck from a halfway house in Charleston.
This time, Hanson, 66, of Bucksport experienced four weeks of freedom before being arrested Wednesday for stealing a red 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier and leading police on a high-speed chase from Bucksport to Brewer.
Hanson late Thursday remained at Hancock County Jail unable to make bail on charges of theft by unauthorized taking, driving to endanger, operating after suspension and eluding a police officer.
Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy set bail Thursday at $10,000 cash or $50,000 surety in Hanson’s first appearance in Hancock County Superior Court.
Hanson, originally from Brattleboro, Vt., served 20 years in prison in that state for the 1985 murder of a female acquaintance, according to a report published Wednesday in the Bangor Daily News. Before the murder, he spent six years in a Vermont state hospital after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to the 1964 killing of his wife.
He also has a long history of stealing vehicles and escaping from jail, according to published reports.
Hanson’s criminal spree in Maine began on May 18, 2005, when he took a 2003 GMC pickup truck from the 2nd Chance Ranch in Charleston. Hanson had been staying there since his release from the Vermont prison six days earlier.
He was arrested two days later at a home in Detroit, according to a report previously published in the BDN. The truck was found on May 20 in the parking lot of Lucky’s Tavern in Newport.
Hanson was sentenced to five years in prison — the maximum allowed under the law — after being found guilty of Class C theft. He also was ordered to pay $3,700 in restitution for damage to the truck in a minor accident.
Greg Campbell, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, prosecuted Hanson in 2005. He said Thursday that Hanson has paid $342.25 in restitution, most likely from money he earned while working in prison.
Hanson was released from Downeast Correctional Facility in Bucks Harbor on Aug. 5. Because he was held without bail from his arrest on May 20, 2005, until his sentencing on Jan. 25, 2006, Hanson was credited for time served. He also most likely was able to earn time off his five-year sentence for good behavior, according to Campbell.
The convicted murderer had been living with a woman in Bucksport, according to Bucksport Police Chief Sean Geagan. His department received a report about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday that the Cavalier had been taken from the parking lot of a business on Mechanic Street.
A short time later, Officer Daniel Harlan saw the vehicle traveling north on Route 15 and attempted to stop it. Instead of pulling over, Hanson allegedly led police on a chase that reached speeds of 80 to 90 mph, passing other vehicles and driving into oncoming traffic.
Deputies from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and the Brewer Police Department laid spike mats along the route. The vehicle finally was forced to a halt on South Main Street in Brewer. It had minor damage as it came to rest beside a utility pole, Harlan said Wednesday.
If convicted on the new charges, Hanson faces up to five years in prison unless the value of the Cavalier is found to be more than $10,000. He would face up to 10 years in prison if prosecutors could prove the car was worth more than that.