HOULTON, Maine — Attorneys for Thayne Ormsby, the man accused of killing three people a year ago in Amity, told a judge on Thursday their client’s statements to police should not be admitted as evidence during his murder trial.
Ormsby is accused of stabbing to death Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Ryan’s son Jesse, 10, and Ryan family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity. All three were found dead about 27 hours after the killings at the Ryans’ home on U.S. Route 1.
Police, who revealed Thursday that the three were killed with a combat-style knife, testified that any information about the homicides came from Ormsby voluntarily and that they gave the accused ample opportunity to obtain counsel.
Through his attorneys, James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire of Presque Isle, Ormsby filed paperwork seeking to suppress statements that he made to police late last June and July, claiming that his Miranda rights were violated. Miranda rights are read to an individual by police to inform the person of his constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent and to request an attorney.
The six-hour hearing was held in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton before Justice E. Allen Hunter.
Police had not revealed information on the weapon used in the killings or whether they had recovered it from the beaver bog where Ormsby reportedly threw it after the slayings until Thursday. Maine State Police Detective Joshua Haines said all three people were stabbed to death with a combat knife Ormsby reportedly always carried with him, and that state [olice divers had recovered the knife.
The 21-year-old Ormsby pleaded not guilty in July to three counts of murder in connection with the deaths, and to 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.
Ormsby told police he killed Jeffrey Ryan because he believed Ryan was a drug dealer. Ryan’s family has denied the claim, and a criminal background check on Jeffrey Ryan revealed no history of drug-related offenses.
Ormsby, who had been staying at the Orient home of Robert and Joy Strout but listed Ellsworth as his hometown on a social networking website, was arrested after police linked him to the crime 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.
Much of the testimony Thursday focused on two sessions of questioning of Ormsby conducted by state police Detectives Dale Keegan and Adam Stoutamyer after the killings. Both interviewed Ormsby in Dover, N.H., where he reportedly was taken by Robert Strout after the killings.
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.
Police say that Strout admitted helping to conceal evidence in the killings. He also has pleaded not guilty. He made bail shortly after his arrest and continues living at his Orient home.
The detectives went to New Hampshire after learning from one of Robert Strout’s daughters about the existence of Ormsby and that he had been taken by Robert Strout to New Hampshire.
Keegan testified that during the first interview with Ormsby on June 29, 2010, he told Ormsby that he was not under arrest and did not read him Miranda rights. He said Ormsby voluntarily answered questions and submitted DNA and fingerprint samples when asked. Those later were used to tie him to the crime scene.
When Keegan and Stoutamyer traveled to New Hampshire to interview him again on July 2, Keegan said that Orsmby again agreed to be interviewed and repeatedly was read his Miranda rights and told that he was not under arrest and was free to stop answering questions or ask for a lawyer at any time. Keegan said Ormsby was relaxed during questioning and was offered food and given breaks.
The detective said Ormsby stuck to his original story until confronted with evidence from the crime scene, and then admitted guilt and wrote out a confession for police. Keegan testified that he read Ormsby the Miranda again before he wrote out the confession.
“Out of free will, I will give you what I want,” Ormsby said in a transcript of the July 2 interview. He also said,”Why the hell not?” when Keegan again told him he didn’t have to write out the confession, according to testimony.
Stoutamyer testified that during a break, Ormsby asked him about what sort of punishment he might be facing for the crimes and told the detective that the “search is over” for the killer.
Ormsby’s attorney Dunleavy focused on points in the July 2 confession where Ormsby said he would have to “plead the Fifth” to some questions, and at one point said, “perhaps I do need a lawyer.” Despite that, Ormsby kept talking and answering questions for police, according to testimony, and never requested that the interview cease or that he be provided an attorney.
Dunleavy also questioned Dr. Debra Bader, chief forensic psychologist with the State Forensic Service, who did psychological and other testing on Ormsby. She characterized him as “bright” but “emotionally immature” due to his “traumatic” and “chaotic” upbringing. She also said he was “impulsive” and appeared to suffer from episodic depression and despair and generalized anxiety. She told the attorney that someone who is impulsive could blurt out information when interrogated and that depression could cause someone to be “fatalistic.”
Thursday’s hearing was attended by approximately 15 people, mostly friends and family of the victims. Ormsby’s mother, Maria Ormsby, also attended. Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes and Dunleavy put nine witnesses on the stand during the hearing, mostly law enforcement officers assigned to the case.
Attorneys will submit additional written statements to Hunter before the justice makes a decision sometime next month on the motion to suppress.