Attorneys for Amity triple slaying suspect seeking to suppress evidence

Posted April 25, 2011, at 5:42 p.m.
Last modified April 25, 2011, at 7:21 p.m.
Shannon Ryan | Shannon Ryan
Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

AMITY, Maine — Attorneys for the man charged in the stabbing deaths of two Amity men and a 10-year-old boy have filed paperwork seeking to suppress statements that the suspect made to police late last June and July, the Maine Attorney General’s Office confirmed Monday.

Thayne Ormsby, who was 20 at the time of the triple homicide, is charged with killing Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, on June 22, 2010, in Amity. Ormsby grew up in Ellsworth and moved to Orient, a neighboring town to Amity, just a few weeks before the slayings.

All three victims were stabbed to death at the U.S. Route 1 home owned by Jeffrey Ryan. Ryan and Dehahn were best friends and lived in Amity, which is where Jesse Ryan resided for most of his life. The boy had moved to Lewiston to live with his mother in the months before the slayings, but returned to Amity shortly before his death to spend Father’s Day with his dad.

Ormsby was arrested and charged last July in connection with the stabbing deaths. Police detectives said they tied Ormsby to the crime scene using fingerprint and DNA evidence. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of arson.

Ormsby remains held without bail at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

In the weeks before the killings, he lived a short distance from the crime scene at the Orient home of Robert and Joy Strout. One of the Strouts’ daughters was a longtime friend of Ormsby’s mother.

Robert Strout, 63, was arrested last September on a Class B charge of hindering apprehension and a Class A charge of arson in connection with the triple homicide. Both are felony offenses, with the Class B charge punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine and the Class A charge punishable by up to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

Police say that Strout admitted helping conceal evidence in the killings.

Strout also has pleaded not guilty. He made bail shortly after his arrest and continues living at his Orient home.

After the slayings, Strout told police he drove Ormsby to the Dover, N.H., home of his son, Robert Strout II. Ormsby was interviewed twice before his arrest. Both interviews took place in Dover.

According to an affidavit written by state police Detective Josh Haines, Ormsby confessed the killings to state police Detective Dale Keegan during the second interview.

Ormsby told a detective that he killed Jeffrey Ryan because he believed Ryan was a drug dealer, the affidavit stated. Ryan’s family has denied the claim, and a criminal background check on Jeffrey Ryan revealed no history of drug-related offenses.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes said Monday that Ormsby’s attorneys, James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire of Presque Isle, are seeking to suppress statements made to police in those interviews based on factors surrounding Miranda rights, which guarantee an individual the right to remain silent or request an attorney.

“Basically, they are saying that he wasn’t properly Mirandized and that if he waived his right to an attorney, he did it involuntarily or unknowingly,” Stokes explained. “Our position is that this is false, and that both interviews satisfied all state and federal standards. Everything was done properly, and Mr. Ormsby was aware of all of his rights.”

According to the affidavit, Ormsby did not ask for an attorney at any time. After he first was interviewed by police, he even advised detectives where he would be staying “if they needed to find him” for additional information.

Ormsby was arrested in New Hampshire on July 2.

Robert Strout told police last July that a bloodied Ormsby came to his home after the killings and threatened to kill his family if he did not help Ormsby cover up evidence of the crime, according to the affidavit. He allegedly drove Ormsby to a location where he could burn Jeffrey Ryan’s stolen truck and also incinerate his bloody clothing. Strout also told police he drove Ormsby to a bog and saw Ormsby throw a knife into the water.

The arson charges lodged against both Ormsby and Strout stem from the burning of Ryan’s truck.

The case against Strout continues to move through the justice system. No trial date has been set.

Stokes said Tuesday that a hearing date on the motion to suppress has not yet been scheduled. He is hoping that the trial against Ormsby will begin in the fall.

Attorneys for Ormsby could not be reached for comment Monday.

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