HOULTON, Maine — A man related to one of the people Thayne Ormsby is accused of killing was arrested and charged with tampering with a juror after he urged a juror to “hang the bastard” when the juror was entering the Aroostook County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, Maine State Police said.
Albert Gaudet, 52, of Standish was arrested by state police Lt. Christopher Coleman, who interviewed Gaudet after court proceedings Tuesday morning, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Gaudet was then taken to the Aroostook County Jail.
The male juror reported the incident to a court official and the trial was delayed for about 45 minutes.
The juror told the court that the man held the door open for him as he entered the courthouse and said, “I hope you hang the bastard,” according to McCausland.
Tampering with a juror is a Class B crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
It is the first time in recent memory that someone has been charged with tampering with a juror at a Maine homicide trial, McCausland said.
Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter and attorneys for both sides questioned the juror. The man said he could remain impartial, and he will remain on the jury.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who is prosecuting the case, told Hunter the incident was “of great concern” to the prosecution.
Gaudet was released later Tuesday on $750 cash bail, according to the Aroostook County district attorney’s office in Houlton. His bail conditions include not returning to Houlton until the Ormsby trial concludes. He is scheduled to appear in Aroostook County Superior Court on July 18 for an initial appearance.
Ormsby, 21, has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to three counts of murder and an arson charge in connection with the stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Ryan’s son Jesse, 10, and Ryan family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity, on June 22, 2010. They were found dead about 27 hours after the killings at the Ryans’ home on U.S. Route 1, according to police.
Gaudet was identified as being the nephew of Robert Dehahn, the father of victim Jason Dehahn.
The defendant was arrested on July 2, 2010, in Dover, N.H.
He has been held without bail at the Aroostook County Jail since he was returned to Maine on July 12, 2010.
More than a dozen family and friends of the victims attended the trial Monday. Dehahn’s wife, Crystal Dehahn, 25, of Hodgdon; his brother, Jake Dehahn, 28, and father, Robert Dehahn, 55, both of Amity, testified briefly about their search for Jason Dehahn, who did not return home for supper after taking his ATV to visit Jeffrey Ryan before taking seats in the courtroom.
Many of them returned for the second day of the trial in Aroostook County Superior Court.
Jesse Ryan’s mother, Jamie Merrill, 31, of Lewiston, did not attend the trial Monday.
After the delay Tuesday morning, the state police detectives who collected evidence at the scene of the triple-homicide in Amity nearly two years ago took the stand.
Detectives Elmer Farren and Jay Pelletier both testified about finding three half-empty beer bottles and a cigarette with a long ash on it in an ashtray in Jeffrey Ryan’s trailer. The DNA from one of the bottles and the cigarette butt were traced to Ormsby, according to prosecutors.
Technicians from the Maine State Crime Lab are scheduled Tuesday afternoon to testify about the testing of the beer bottles, the cigarette butt and other evidence.
Ormsby grew up in Ellsworth and went to Ellsworth High School until he dropped out his senior year. At the time of the killings, he was living with Robert, 65, and Joy Strout, 63, in Orient, according to previously published reports.
Strout pleaded guilty in October to hindering apprehension and arson in connection with Ormsby’s case. The older man admitted helping Ormsby set fire to Jeffrey Ryan’s pickup truck the day after the slayings to cover up evidence and taking Ormsby to New Hampshire to stay with Strout’s son. He is expected to be sentenced after testifying against Ormsby.
Shortly after Ormsby was arrested, Robert Strout, who is free on bail, reportedly said Ormsby told him the killings followed a confrontation over a $10,000 drug debt owed to a third party. The defendant killed Dehahn and the boy after he killed Jeffrey Ryan because they could identify him, Stokes told the jury Monday.
Defense attorney James M. Dunleavy of Presque Isle called the deaths in Amity “tragic, horrible and horrific.”
“The defense will put into context the events of June 22 and 23,” he told jurors in his brief opening statement Monday.
Because of his insanity plea, Ormsby will be tried in two phases. In the first and longer phase, the jury will be asked to find whether he is guilty of the charges on which he has been indicted. If he is found guilty, the jury will hear evidence as to his state of mind at the time of the crime. Jurors then will be asked to determine whether Ormsby was criminally responsible for his actions.
If the jury finds he was insane when the crimes were committed, Ormsby would not be sent to prison but to the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta for an undetermined amount of time. If jurors find him guilty and sane, Ormsby would face a sentence of between 25 years and life in prison on each of the murder charges. He would face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of arson.
Judges are allowed to impose life sentences in Maine under specific circumstances. One of them is being convicted of multiple murders.
The trial is scheduled to conclude on April 20.