ROCKLAND, Maine — A man convicted of kidnapping and injuring two people in 2008 at the Maine State Prison received 40 years in prison for crimes the judge described as “unspeakably cruel.”
On June 30, 2008 prisoner Michael Chasse, 36, locked a librarian and a fellow inmate into an office before stabbing the librarian several times, cutting the prisoner’s face and demanding pornography from prison staff. He held the two people hostage and effectively shut down all prison operations for about seven hours, a judge said Tuesday in his summary of the case.
During his sentencing hearing in Knox County Superior Court on Tuesday, Chasse, who is representing himself, begged for a chance to experience freedom again, “otherwise I’ll die having never consciously enjoyed that freedom.”
Chasse argued that his sentence should be about 15 years for the four crimes of kidnapping, three assault crimes, two terrorizing crimes and two crimes of trafficking in prison contraband. The district attorney asked for a sentence of about 50 years — effectively a life sentence because Chasse’s previous crimes already will keep him locked up until about 2030. The judge settled on a 40-year total sentence for the most recent convictions.
“I think it was pretty fair, actually,” Chasse announced in the Knox County Superior Courtroom after the hearing was recessed.
However, Chasse said he will appeal the sentence.
“What else does he have to do with his time?” said his mother, Jeannine Greenleaf, after the sentencing.
For his crimes against prison librarian Jacqueline Weddle, Chasse received 20 years for two kidnapping charges, five years for aggravated assault, five years for terrorizing, five years for trafficking in prison contraband and five years for a second charge of trafficking in prison contraband. Those sentences will run concurrently, for a total of 20 years.
For his crimes against prisoner Ryan Currier, Chasse received 20 years for two kidnapping charges, 10 years for elevated aggravated assault, five years for aggravated assault and five years for terrorizing. Those sentences will run concurrently with each other for another 20-year total sentence.
The two 20-year sentences will be served consecutively for a total of 40 years, and these will be served consecutively to his current prison time. Chasse is not expected to be released until about 2070.
Superior Court Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm said he would have given Chasse a total sentence of 30 years for the library incident if Chasse didn’t have such a long criminal record, which he said was about as long as a criminal record could possibly be for a 36-year-old. Chasse’s criminal record spans from 1993 to 2004 and includes convictions for assaults, thefts, forgery, disorderly conduct, assault on an officer, robbery, criminal trespass and more.
Details of Chasse’s hostage-related crimes came out during a two-week-long trial in August. On June 30, 2008, Chasse intended to kill an inmate and hold a correctional officer hostage, but something went wrong. Chasse testified that as he was walking in the library with a homemade knife in hand, Weddle, the prison’s librarian, yelled at him to stay away from the back door of the library, where prisoners are forbidden. She became his target.
Chasse testified that he began thinking about holding Weddle hostage in a “righteous protest” of library rules. He was unsure whether he could do it, and he worried what his fellow inmates would think of him for tormenting a 5-foot-tall woman. Then, Ryan Currier, an inmate Chasse said he hated, walked into Weddle’s office. Chasse went into the office behind Currier and shut and locked the door. He said he told Weddle and Currier to sit down, that this was a hostage situation.
When Weddle disobeyed and went for the door, Chasse stabbed her four times, he said in court. He tied Currier up with boot laces he had brought. He smashed a typewriter, tied Weddle with its chords and lectured Weddle on the rules of the library, which he said were unjust. He 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 stayed in the room, Chasse sliced open Currier’s cheek. He threatened to cut the man’s lips off and dice them into tiny pieces. He put a knife in the man’s ear and twisted it, causing minor injury. He told the hostages he would kill them.
Chasse started making demands of police to give him a credit card to obtain 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 hit the floor.
Chasse told the jury that he unknowingly had ingested LSD by eating a letter three anonymous women sent to him, which he said may have been laced with the drug.
At the end of the trial, Chasse 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.