Accused hostage taker continues to stall hearing

Posted April 27, 2010, at 8:36 p.m.
(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KATE COLLINS)



CAPTION



Randall Hofland, 55, of Searsport is led into Belfast District Court on Monday, November 3, 2008.  After evading police for a week in connection to brandishing a firearm during a traffic stop, Hofland took 11 fifth-grade students at Stockton Springs Elementary School on Friday, October 31, 2008, before he was tackled by police and taken into custody.  (Bangor Daily News/Kate Collins)
BDN
(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KATE COLLINS) CAPTION Randall Hofland, 55, of Searsport is led into Belfast District Court on Monday, November 3, 2008. After evading police for a week in connection to brandishing a firearm during a traffic stop, Hofland took 11 fifth-grade students at Stockton Springs Elementary School on Friday, October 31, 2008, before he was tackled by police and taken into custody. (Bangor Daily News/Kate Collins)
BELFAST - Accused hostage-taker Randall Brian Hofland leaves Waldo County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon after a hearing. Hofland was indicted on 41 criminal charges dating from the Oct. 31, 2008 hostage-taking incident at Stockton Springs Elementary School. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY ABIGAIL CURTIS
BELFAST - Accused hostage-taker Randall Brian Hofland leaves Waldo County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon after a hearing. Hofland was indicted on 41 criminal charges dating from the Oct. 31, 2008 hostage-taking incident at Stockton Springs Elementary School. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY ABIGAIL CURTIS

BELFAST, Maine — The man accused of taking 11 Stockton Springs schoolchildren hostage at gunpoint in October 2008 took his time Tuesday afternoon while interrogating a witness during a hearing in Waldo County Superior Court.

Again.

Randall Brian Hofland, 56, is acting as his own defense attorney with assistance from Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth. Tuesday marked the 10th day of a hearing that opened several months ago on a motion to suppress, which ordinarily would take just a day or so to complete, according to other attorneys present.

“I’ve never dealt with anything like this before,” said Waldo County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau. “My hope is that we’re getting near the end.”

Originally, Rushlau said, he had thought Hofland’s case would come to a jury trial in January, but now he is hoping it will be scheduled for July. The delay can be attributed in part to the dozens of handwritten motions Hofland has filed in the case, as many as two a week, Rushlau said.

And although Hofland on Tuesday called Waldo County police dispatcher Katie Dakin to the witness stand and largely limited his questions to details of a routine police checkpoint in Searsport on Oct. 23, 2008, he did make direct statements about the alleged school hostage taking.

“I’m not the monster they’ve tried to paint,” Hofland said, adding that he expects the dismissal of all charges. “If anything, I was the protector of those children. You might be surprised.”

Hofland was indicted on 22 counts of kidnapping, 12 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, six counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and one count of burglary after the Oct. 31, 2008, hostage-taking incident at Stockton Springs Elementary School.

None of the 11 students held hostage was physically injured during the half-hour-long incident, which ended when Hofland handed his 10 mm handgun to a male pupil. Hofland was tackled by police as he left the classroom and stepped into the hallway.

At the time that he entered the school with a gun, Hofland already had been the subject of a weeklong police manhunt which began after he allegedly brandished a handgun at a Searsport police officer during a routine safety check on Oct. 23. He then fled into nearby woods. At some point that night, Hofland called the Waldo County Communications Center and allegedly told a dispatcher there would be “war” unless the police backed off.

Leg-shackled and clad in the orange jumpsuit of Somerset County Jail, where he is being held, Hofland confidently cited other cases and flipped through the documents before him, only once asking a question of Toothaker.

Hofland mentioned what he called an unjust police search of his property after he was arrested, during which a number of items were confiscated and returned to his former employer. Hofland contends the items were his property.

He also complained Tuesday that he has limited access to case law while in his cell, told Justice Jeffrey Hjelm that he is not being allowed to “effectively litigate” his case, and objected to not being allowed to call all the witnesses to the stand that he wants.

Hofland has filed civil lawsuits against Rushlau, Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker, Attorney General Janet Mills and Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming, and said Tuesday that his legal efforts have to do with “corrupt government officials.”

According to Rushlau, the prosecution is trying to avoid creating publicity for Hofland so that enough Waldo County jurists can be found and a trial can proceed as easily as possible.

“Some of the kids [from the school] would very likely be witnesses,” he said. “It looks inevitable.”

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