AUGUSTA, Maine — A Bangor man will spend no less than six years in prison for his role in the slaying of 19-year-old Holly Boutilier last August.
Justin Ptaszynski, 27, pleaded guilty to the Class B charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.
After a scathing condemnation by Boutilier’s mother, Kathy Ingraham, who called him a “monster,” Ptaszynski told the courtroom that he had abandoned his planned statement.
“After I heard what Holly’s mother had to say, there are no words I can say,” said Ptaszynski, who wore a bright red jumpsuit and was not restrained by handcuffs or shackles. “I wish I’d acted a little differently under the circumstances.”
Ptaszynski, who originally was charged with murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution, pleaded not guilty to those charges in August. In exchange for his guilty plea Friday and a sentence of 10 years in prison with all but six years suspended, the state agreed to drop the murder charge on the grounds that Ptaszynski did not personally kill Boutilier.
The hindering apprehension or prosecution charge stemmed from the fact that Ptaszynski witnessed the crime but did nothing to stop it, nor did he contact police.
In the days after Boutilier’s death on Aug. 8, 2009, in a shack near the Bangor Waterfront, according to Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, Ptaszynski concealed evidence, including clothing, and urged Colin Koehler, 34, of Bangor, to do the same. Koehler, who allegedly stabbed Boutilier to death with a curved, Japa-nese-style knife, is awaiting trial on murder charges.
Ptaszynski also lied to investigators about the chain of events and the location of the alleged murder weapon, among other things, according to Benson.
After listing all the evidence and witnesses he would use to prosecute Ptaszynski if the case ever went to trial, Benson recommended a sentence of 10 years — the maximum allowable for a Class B crime in Maine.
“I don’t think you can overstate the amount of victim impact in this case,” argued Benson. “We know there was extreme suffering.”
Jeffrey Silverstein, Ptaszynski’s defense attorney, said his client did not know what would unfold on Aug. 8, 2009, when he went for a walk with Boutilier and Koehler. Ptaszynski’s biggest mistakes came after the killing when he didn’t turn Koehler in to police or at least distance himself, said Silverstein.
“We’re not here asking that the court excuse this conduct,” said Silverstein. “Mr. Ptaszynski has expressed remorse. He is more than happy to assist the state in any way.”
But Ingraham, who addressed the court flanked by Boutilier’s father and younger sister, urged Murphy to imprison Ptaszynski “for life.” Turning to face Ptaszynski with blazing eyes, Ingraham described the first time she saw her daughter after the alleged murder — in a coffin.
“I knew then that the nightmare was not only real, but there was never going to be any way to get away from it,” she said. “That was my daughter in that box … I can’t draw a breath without thinking about her. Nothing feels right without her.”
Gene Boutilier, Holly Boutilier’s father, said outside the courthouse that Ptaszynski is just as guilty as Koehler. “In my eyes he’s as guilty as the other one,” said Boutilier.
Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy said she hoped Ptaszynski’s sentence will serve as a deterrent, a punishment and a chance for reform.
“When a serious crime is committed, a citizen has an obligation to assist the police,” she said. “Not lie to the police.”
After his release, Ptaszynski will serve three years of probation, including restrictions on his acquaintances, town of residence and alcohol consumption. He also must participate in mental health evaluations and counseling.