Inmate guilty on all 11 counts in hostage case

Posted Aug. 20, 2010, at 3:46 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:33 a.m.
Michael Chasse in the court room surrounded by security personell at Knox County Superior Court in Rockland.  Chasse was found guilty on all eleven charges by the jury. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
BDN
Michael Chasse in the court room surrounded by security personell at Knox County Superior Court in Rockland. Chasse was found guilty on all eleven charges by the jury. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
Michael Chasse (center, partially obscured) sits in the court room surrounded by security personell at Knox County Superior Court.  Chasse was found guilty on all eleven charges by the jury. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)
BDN
Michael Chasse (center, partially obscured) sits in the court room surrounded by security personell at Knox County Superior Court. Chasse was found guilty on all eleven charges by the jury. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Michael Chasse, an inmate who held two people hostage in the Maine State Prison in 2008, sat Friday and looked coolly at the jurors as he listened to the word “guilty” 143 times.

Jeannine Greenleaf rocked in her chair and cried as the jury announced that her son was guilty of 11 crimes, which could lead to more than 200 years of extra prison time.

Chasse, dressed in a blue button-down shirt and jeans, had requested to have each juror tell him the verdict on each count — in addition to the initial announcement. He was convicted of four charges of kidnapping, one charge of elevated aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated assault, two charges of terrorizing with a dangerous weapon and two charges of trafficking in prison contraband.

It took the jury less than two hours to reach a verdict.

Chasse will be sentenced this fall. He has requested and will receive a court-appointed attorney, according to Superior Court Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm.

Chasse spent two weeks in the Knox County Superior Courtroom. He represented himself and called witness after witness to try to prove he was involuntary intoxicated on June 30, 2008, when he tied up and injured the prison librarian and a fellow inmate and taunted them for seven hours.

His mother said she has had a hard two weeks.

“My heart aches over his choices in his life. But he is my son,” she said outside the courthouse Friday after Chasse was pulled away by law enforcement officials. “I do not agree with his choices, but a mother’s love is intense and unconditional.”

Greenleaf said she and his sisters are all he has.

“Michael has no friends. He has no girlfriends. He has no life to speak of, but he does have family who love him and pray for him,” she said.

His mother said hearing the details of Chasse’s mental health, the prison conditions he deals with and how he wants to die — which he mentioned several times in court — was very difficult to deal with.

On June 30, 2008, Chasse said he was going to take a homemade knife he had hidden in the prison library back to his living quarters in the prison. He said he intended to kill an inmate and hold a corrections officer hostage that day, but something went wrong.

As Chasse walked into the library he said the librarian yelled at him to stay away from the back door, where prisoners are forbidden. Chasse began thinking about holding her hostage in a “righteous protest” of library rules, but was unsure if he could do it. He said that he was worried that his fellow inmates would think he was a wuss for tormenting a 5-foot-tall woman.

Then, Ryan Currier, an inmate whom Chasse hated, walked into librarian Jacqueline Weddle’s office. Chasse went into the office, shut the locked door behind him and told the two to sit down, that this was a hostage situation.

When Weddle disobeyed and went for the door, Chasse said he stabbed her four times. He tied Currier up with bootlaces. He smashed a typewriter and tied Weddle with its cords. Then he lectured Weddle on the rules of the library, which he said were unjust.

Chasse then turned his attention to Currier and gave him a lesson in virtues, using a Wikipedia Web page that defined “virtue.”

During the seven hours the three were in the room, Chasse sliced open Currier’s cheek and threatened to cut the man’s lips off and dice them into tiny pieces. He demanded police give him a credit card for pornography and public records. He got both.

After some of his demands were met, Chasse let Weddle go. Three minutes later, police burst through office windows to save Currier.

Chasse told the jury that he unknowingly ingested LSD by eating a letter three anonymous women sent to him, which he said may have been laced with the drug.

Chasse stared directly at the jurors as they told Superior Court Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm that he was guilty on each of the 11 counts. Chasse looked calm and collected through the 17 minutes during which the jurors said “guilty” 143 times.

As for his mother, she said she will visit him tomorrow and let him vent.

“Michael’s family will continue to be loyal to him,” she said. “We’re all that he has.”

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