Man convicted in Orono hit-and-run death to be sentenced

Garrett Cheney of South Berwick sits in a courtroom at the Penosbscot Judicial Center in Bangor and listens to opening statements to the jury on Tuesday, July 19, 2011.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Garrett Cheney of South Berwick sits in a courtroom at the Penosbscot Judicial Center in Bangor and listens to opening statements to the jury on Tuesday, July 19, 2011.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 06, 2011, at 6:30 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The man convicted in the Jan. 30, 2010, hit-and-run death of a University of Maine student faces up to 30 years in prison Wednesday when he is scheduled to be sentenced for manslaughter and other offenses.

Garrett Cheney, 23, of South Berwick was convicted in July by a Penobscot County jury of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury, and criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants in connection with the death of Jordyn Bakley, 20, of Camden.

The prosecutor and defense attorney were tight-lipped Tuesday about the how long they thought Cheney should spend behind bars.

Penobscot Count District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday that he had not decided what sentence he would recommend be imposed.

“We see little reason for suspending any of the sentence,” Almy said.

The prosecutor said after the verdict was announced that he would recommend that a significant sentence be imposed.

Defense attorney William Bly of Biddeford declined Tuesday to discuss his sentencing recommendation.

Cheney maintained his innocence throughout the trial and after his conviction.

Bly said after the trial that the case would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. That appeal will be based, in part, on Justice William Anderson’s denial Nov. 1 of the defense attorney’s motions for a new trial and acquittal.

Anderson concluded that the evidence was clearly sufficient and the length of jury deliberations did not indicate that the jurors failed to fairly and impartially reach their verdict.

“Much of the trial was devoted to endless direct, cross, redirect and recross of expert witnesses who were asked questions concerning the minutia[e] of their findings,” Anderson, who presided over the trial, wrote in a four-page ruling. “Most fundamentally, the jurors weighted the evidentiary significance of the critical pieces of the grill from the defendant’s truck that were found in the vicinity of Ms. Bakley’s body. They also weighed the evidentiary value of the similar piece of plastic found during the packaging of her clothing. They were entitled to find that it, too, had once been a part of the defendant’s truck.

They then had to weigh the likelihood of the proposition that the defendant’s truck had been involved in an accident earlier in the night before Ms. Bakley’s death — in the same place where her body was later found,” the judge continued. “They were entitled to consider the entirety of the evidence, including this evidence, and conclude that this was highly unlikely and unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the pieces of the grill and light assembly were left at the scene because Mr. Cheney, while under the influence, had struck and killed Jordyn Bakley with his truck, and then left the scene, leaving pieces of his damaged truck behind.”

Cheney was in Orono on Jan. 29, 2010, visiting a cousin to celebrate the cousin’s 21st birthday, according to trial testimony

After hitting Bakley, Cheney headed south on Interstate 95. His Silverado went off the highway about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 30, 2010, in Etna, according to testimony. The damaged pickup was towed to the storage lot of a Newport towing firm.

Cheney was not injured but was charged with drunken driving. His blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, two hours after his truck left I-95, according to testimony.

Bly conceded in his opening statement that his client was too drunk to drive and guilty of operating under the influence.

Cheney will be sentenced separately on each conviction, but most likely he will be ordered to serve them concurrently.

He has been free on $50,000 secured bond since his arrest in April 2010.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/12/06/news/court/man-convicted-in-orono-hit-and-run-death-to-be-sentenced/ printed on December 20, 2014