‘Career criminal’ gets six years for burglary spree in Hancock County

Posted Dec. 02, 2011, at 8:23 p.m.
Randolph Garland
Courtesy of Hancock County Jail
Randolph Garland

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Trenton man was sentenced Friday to serve six years in prison for a string of burglaries at unattended camps in Hancock County.

Randy Garland, 47, who has an extensive criminal history, received an overall sentence of nine years with all but six suspended from Justice Robert Murray. He also was ordered to pay $2,393 in restitution, to get mental and substance abuse evaluations and possible treatment, and to serve three years of probation upon his release.

This past August, at the end of a three-day trial in Hancock County Superior Court, Garland was convicted by a jury of 15 counts of burglary theft. The burglaries, investigated by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, were committed in late 2009 and early 2010 at unoccupied seasonal homes in Brooksville, Sullivan and Township 10.

The sentence was in between the recommendation of 10 years and no probation sought by the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office, and the seven-to-eight-year sentence requested by Garland’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor.

Tzovarras said after the proceeding that he thought the sentence was fair. Despite Garland’s extensive criminal history, which dates back nearly 30 years, he has never had post-release probation that required him to seek the mental and substance-abuse counseling that his client likely needs. When Garland was 14, Tzovarras had told the judge, he spent some time as a patient at Augusta Mental Health Institute.

“I think it’s a fair sentence,” Tzovarras said.

Assistant Hancock County District Attorney William Entwisle, the prosecutor in the case, said he thought the sentence was “significant.” He said the requirement for Garland to get mental health and substance abuse evaluations could help stem future criminal behavior by the defendant.

“It sends a strong message to him,” Entwisle said of the sentence.

Garland addressed Murray during the sentencing. During an emotional plea that lasted several minutes, Garland told the judge he has spent 29 years in custody, either in youth facilities or in adult jails and prisons.

“By my recollection, I’ve done about 28 Christmases in jail,” Garland told the judge in his raspy voice.

Garland said that he was abandoned by his father when he was young and was raised by his mother — who, Tzovarras told the judge, has issues with alcohol — until the age of 10, when he was sent to live in a boys’ home in Bangor.

“I don’t think I’ve grown up,” Garland said. “I’m a 10-year-old kid in a 47-year-old body.”

Garland told the judge he has had issues with alcohol consumption and, between his difficult childhood and hard living in prison for his prior offenses, has not learned how to address his problems.

Garland said he has taken up drawing in the past seven months that he has been held at Hancock County Jail, and that he’s learning to focus on more constructive activities. During the proceeding, Murray leafed through a folder of drawings made by Garland, most of them of wildlife such as birds or bears.

“I don’t know how to deal with nothing,” Garland said in his raspy voice. “[Officials at Hancock County Jail] have taught me more about myself than I’ve had the opportunity to learn.”

There were no victims in the courtroom during the sentencing, though one victim did provide a written statement that was not read aloud in the courtroom.

Before Garland was led away to begin serving his sentence at Maine State Prison in Warren, Murray told him that Garland has the potential to change his life. The drawings show that Garland can put his energies toward productive activities, the judge said, and Garland’s ability to put in several hours of hard work was brought up in testimony during his trial.

“You have it within you,” Murray said. “Only you can actually demonstrate it.”

Garland has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1982 that includes multiple convictions for assault, burglary, theft, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, escape and other crimes, including a conviction in 2003 for assaulting a corrections officer at Hancock County Jail.

In 1988, Garland briefly escaped from the old Hancock County Jail. He stripped naked, smeared butter packets he had stockpiled from his jail meals on his body, kicked out a narrow window in his cell, threw his clothes through the opening, and then squeezed his greased body through the gap to freedom. He was tracked down by police within a few hours in downtown Ellsworth and taken back into custody.

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