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Judge sentences man to 2 life terms in 2008 machete attacks

Daniel Fortune sits in Kennebec County Superior Court during his sentencing hearing on Thursday June 24, 2010 in Augusta, Maine. A Superior Court judge has sentenced Fortune to two life terms in a 2008 machete attack that left a father and daughter permanently injured. (AP Photo/The Kennebec Journal, Joe Phelan) TV OUT; MAGS OUT
The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Superior Court judge has sentenced a man to two life terms in a 2008 machete attack that left a father and daughter permanently injured.

Calling 22-year-old Daniel Fortune an extremely dangerous young man, Justice Michaela Murphy handed down the sentence Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Last month, a jury found the Augusta man guilty in attacks on William Guerrette and his daughter Nicole, who was 10 at the time.

Assistant District Alan Kelley says the sentences are appropriate given the cruelty of the acts.

Daniel Fortune’s trial is the closing chapter in a case that began with the 2007 theft of a safe and escalated with the brutal attack on May 27, 2008. Fortune’s foster brother Leo Hylton pleaded guilty to his role in the attack and was sentenced in February to 50 years in prison.

Defense attorney Pamela Ames told jurors that the crime was all Hylton’s doing.

The attack in the town of 2,600 happened after the Guerrette family had attended a barbecue. All were in bed and asleep when the burglar alarm, installed after the family’s safe was stolen, sounded at 1:52 a.m.

Because there had been false alarms before, Kelley said, Guerrette didn’t grab his 9 mm handgun before he went to investigate. In the hallway, he shouted, “Get out, get out!” when he encountered a tall intruder, Kelley said. After the first blow to his face and head, Guerrette managed to grab his gun but it clicked when he pulled the trigger.

His wife, who jumped 20 feet to the ground, ran through woods to a neighbor’s house to call for help. Their other daughter, hiding under her bed, also dialed 911.

The violence was not a random act.

In November 2007, a safe containing $30,000 in cash, as well as rare coins and historic bank notes valued at more than $100,000, was stolen from Guerrette’s home while he was out of state on vacation and his 18-year-old son, a high school friend of Fortune’s, held a party.

Fortune and a second man were charged with the theft. The second man pleaded guilty in April 2008 and was sent to jail.

The next year, Fortune and Hylton decided to go to the Guerrette home to collect a $900 debt they said Fortune was owed by the family’s teenage son, Ryan, said Ames.

Fortune stayed in the car outside the house until he heard the alarm, Ames said. He went inside and saw Hylton hacking at the daughter with a machete while Guerrette was sprawled on the floor, she said.

Nicole, who police at first thought was dead, spent six weeks in the hospital. Guerrette, who had an eight-week hospital stay, lost a finger and suffered severe head and arm injuries.

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