Career criminal gets 10 years for burglary in The County

Posted Sept. 21, 2011, at 8:36 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 21, 2011, at 8:57 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — A Linneus man and convicted felon who attempted to burglarize a Mechanic Street apartment last September will spend the next 10 years in prison for his crimes.

Brian S. Paquin, 47, was sentenced in Aroostook County Superior Court by Justice E. Allen Hunter. He was found guilty after a jury trial in June on one count of burglary with a firearm and two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. He entered a no-contest plea to one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and was found guilty.

Hunter sentenced Paquin to 20 years with all but 10 years suspended on the burglary charge, along with four years probation, and five years each on the remaining charges, to be served concurrently.

Paquin, who was represented by attorney Torrey Sylvester of New Limerick, has a lengthy criminal history, including a felony conviction from 1997 for assault with intent to commit robbery out of Rhode Island. He served four years in prison and was sentenced to 16 years of probation for that charge. He subsequently transferred his probation to Maine and was being supervised in Aroostook County at the time he was charged with the burglary. Paquin also has a criminal history in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including convictions for multiple counts of larceny, burglary, disorderly conduct, possession of cocaine and violating probation. Once in Maine, he was convicted twice of operating under the influence and of operating after suspension and assault.

Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Kafferlin said Wednesday that on Sept.16, 2010, Paquin spent time at a Mechanic Street apartment, where he met three of the victims. He then left. Although Paquin was not allowed to possess a firearm because of his felony record, he took a gun from his girlfriend’s home in Linneus and asked her to drive him back to the Mechanic Street apartment at around 11 p.m. Kafferlin said that one of the victims testified that when he heard a knock on the door and answered it, he opened it to see Paquin come in with a gun. The victim and Paquin struggled over the gun while another victim called the police. One of the victims suffered minor injuries.

Kafferlin said that two of the victims were so frightened that they moved away with their children.

“He intended to go in and threaten them with a gun,” he said of Paquin. “And to terrify and intimidate his victims. He didn’t know who would be in the apartment that night, and he knew that [one of the victims] had been drinking … Paquin went into a busy apartment building, where children live, at night with a gun. It was premeditated.”

Sgt. Eric Crouse of the Houlton Police Department handled the case.

Kafferlin said that police never established a motive for the crime, but Sylvester told the judge that Paquin only intended to go to the apartment to show the gun to an acquaintance. He said that Paquin was a skilled, hardworking man who was active in his church and had even done work on two residences owned by Sylvester and his wife. He also worked on the First Baptist Church in Houlton, which he attended. Arthur Meyers, the reverend at the church, also said that Paquin was a hard worker. Paquin worked at the home of another local lawyer, Forrest Barnes, who characterized him to Hunter as a friend who he felt would be a good candidate for probation.

Sylvester pointed out that the gun that Paquin was carrying was unloaded, and said that the accused did not inflict serious injury on his victims. He added that Paquin had taken responsibility by admitting that he was not allowed to possess a firearm. Sylvester said Paquin testified that the scuffle with one of the victims began when the victim saw him with the gun and jumped over a table to try to wrestle it away from him. Paquin stressed that he only wanted to bring the gun there to show it off.

Paquin addressed the court, telling Hunter that “the whole thing got out of hand” on the night in question.

“I had no right to take the gun over there,” he said.

Kafferlin requested that Paquin serve 25 years in jail, with little or no time suspended. Sylvester argued for a much lighter sentence or probation.

Hunter pointed to Paquin’s extensive criminal history and the fact that his probation officer had testified that he lied to her about where he was living and did not seem to recognize that he had substance abuse problems as reason for a harsher sentence. He also said that Paquin had several probation violation convictions on his record and did not seem to want to adhere to court orders.

When he is on probation, Paquin will have to refrain from using drugs and alcohol, will be subject to random searches and testing, will not be allowed contact with his victims and will have to adhere to other requirements. He was immediately returned to jail.

Sylvester indicated in court that he would appeal the sentence.