Testimony chronicles 2008 prison library standoff

Posted Aug. 18, 2010, at 8:55 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A man accused of holding two people hostage in a prison library in a 2008 incident told his side of the story Wednesday in court and outlined previous plans to kill police, inmates and himself, none of which he fulfilled in his 13 years in prison.

Michael Chasse, who is facing several charges of assault, terrorizing and kidnapping, gave three hours of testimony, but the court had to recess before he began to talk about the events of June 30, 2008, when he held two people in the prison library office for seven hours.

He is representing himself in Knox County Superior Court in a trial that started more than a week ago.

According to witness testimony and Chasse’s own admissions, he held an inmate and the Maine State Prison librarian in an office for seven hours while demanding pornography and public records. Chasse is charged with stabbing the inmate in the ear and slicing his face with razors.

On Wednesday, Chasse played videotape of the incident at the prison and began outlining his life story from ages 18 to 25. Chasse said he had been traumatized by other prisoners’ abuse.

He gave detailed accounts to the jury about how he had planned to kill prison security members, other inmates and himself. He also said he planned to hold other prison employees hostage and take other actions he said were intended to be righteous protests.

He told the jury how prison works and how he had obtained several weapons in his 13 years there, including a spear he made out of a toilet plunger and a sock containing a padlock. He also gave detailed instructions about how he made the knife he used during the June 2008 hostage incident.

Chasse is no stranger to corrections and law enforcement officials.

Chasse was armed with a knife in 1997 when he broke into the home of Robert Cohen in Brewer. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on charges related to that incident.

He was ordered to serve an additional 14 years for charges related to his escape outside the Piscataquis County Superior Court during his trial in 1998.

After his escape, he stabbed two law enforcement officers and commandeered a pickup truck. He was arrested five hours later in a canoe on Sebec Lake.

His current trial will continue Thursday with more testimony from Chasse. If Chasse is brief with the rest of his testimony, the jury could begin to deliberate Thursday, according to Superior Court Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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