HOULTON, Maine — A 20-year-old man accused of killing three people in the town of Amity last month pleaded not guilty to all charges Wednesday afternoon, despite having allegedly confessed to the slayings to a Maine State Police detective.
Thayne Ormsby entered the plea during an arraignment in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton before Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter.
Ormsby will continue to be held without bail at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. Lawyers representing Ormsby did not seek bail at the arraignment, but a bail hearing could be scheduled for a later date.
The courtroom was packed during the arraignment on three counts of murder for the deaths on June 22 of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Jesse Ryan, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity. Ormsby also was arraigned on an arson charge in connection with the theft of Jeffrey Ryan’s truck which was set on fire on a field road in Weston after the killings.
Jeffrey Ryan and Jesse Ryan were father and son, while Dehahn was a longtime friend of Jeffrey Ryan who was visiting the Ryans at their U.S. Route 1 home when the three were stabbed to death.
Ormsby, who had been staying in Orient but listed Ellsworth as his hometown on a social networking website, was arrested after police linked him to the murder scene through DNA and fingerprint evidence obtained from a beer can and cigarette butt in Ryan’s home. He also allegedly confessed to the killings to State Police Detective Dale Keegan.
Ormsby’s appearance has changed slightly since his arrest July 2. His blond hair appeared darker and hung straight down over his forehead. He also has grown a beard. Wearing an orange jail uniform, he sat surrounded by deputies from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department during the hearing.
Members of the Ryan and Dehahn families were in the audience during the hearing, but it was not clear whether any friends or relatives of Ormsby were in the crowd. He scanned the audience several times but did not appear to recognize anyone.
Ormsby was represented at the hearing by attorneys James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire, both of Presque Isle. Ormsby told Hunter last week that he could not afford an attorney and filled out paperwork seeking a court-appointed attorney. The judge did not explain Wednesday why two attorneys were representing the defendant.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes represented the state during the brief hearing.
Ormsby spoke only when Hunter asked him how he wanted to plead. When he said “not guilty,” there was a murmur from the audience.
Hunter granted Ormsby’s lawyers 120 days to conduct pretrial motions. They also received the right to amend the plea at a future hearing.
The state has requested that a forensic psychiatric evaluation be conducted on Ormsby, and a decision on that matter likely will be made next week.
Stokes said the evaluation would help determine Ormsby’s state of mind at the time of the killings.
Stokes met with the victims’ family members for more than half an hour after the proceedings. He said afterward that family members were doing “OK” but were “obviously suffering.”
“They have suffered a loss that a lot of us can’t begin to understand,” he said Wednesday.