Amity triple murder trial adjourns before jury hears videotaped confession

Thayne Ormsby on the day of the opening statements in his triple-homicide trial in superior court in Houlton.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Thayne Ormsby on the day of the opening statements in his triple-homicide trial in superior court in Houlton.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted April 11, 2012, at 9:29 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — The trial of Thayne Ormsby for the triple homicide in Amity nearly two years ago adjourned Wednesday just as a videotaped interview of his interrogation by Maine State Police detectives reached the point where the defendant reportedly confessed.

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.

Defense attorneys James M. Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire, both of Presque Isle, are expected to object Thursday to the jury viewing the remainder of the interview and the confession.

Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter previously ruled that Ormsby’s confession could be admitted into evidence.

About 40 minutes of the recording, made on July 2, 2010, at the police station in Dover, N.H., was played Wednesday afternoon for the jury before it was stopped.

Ormsby was arrested the same day after being interviewed by Maine State Police Detectives Dale Keegan and Adam Stoutamyer. He had been staying in Dover, N.H., for about a week.

The videotape made at the police station in New Hampshire was the second police interview of Ormsby played for jurors on the third day of the trial in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton. The first was an audiotaped interview with Ormsby made on June 30, 2010.

Ormsby sounded calm, polite and cooperative when first interviewed by detectives.

It was during that interview that Ormsby confessed to the killings, Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who is prosecuting the case, told the jury in his opening statement Monday.

Ormsby first was interviewed on June 30, 2010, in a cruiser outside the apartment in Dover, N.H., of Robert Strout Jr. Robert Strout Sr., 65, of Orient had driven Ormsby to his son’s home on June 25, 2010, according to previously published reports.

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 Strout Sr. and his wife, Joy Strout, 63, in Orient, according to previously published reports.

In his first interview, Ormsby said he had met Jeffrey Ryan only once. He denied knowing Jesse Ryan or Dehahn. He told detectives he had left the Strouts’ residence in Orient to look for work and because he “was in the way.”

Ormsby told the detectives that he knew the Strouts through their daughter Tamara Strout of Weston, who was the best friend of his mother, Maria Ormsby of Ellsworth. He had ended up living with them in early June after spending some time living with Tamara Strout and her daughter Mariah Ryan of Weston. Mariah Ryan is the daughter of Jeffrey Ryan, according to previously published reports.

When asked by detectives during the interview to speculate on who might have committed the murders, Ormsby said he didn’t know. He said Tamara Strout had theorized that Jeffrey Ryan had offended “some sort of biker gang.”

“She thought it might have had something to do with a problem with a drug dealer,” Ormsby said. “She couldn’t think of why else anyone would do that.”

At the end of the nearly hourlong interview, Ormsby agreed to be fingerprinted and to give detectives a DNA sample. His DNA and fingerprints were traced to items at the murder scene, according to previous testimony.

Testimony early Wednesday morning centered on the discovery of and investigation into the torching of Jeffrey Ryan’s 1989 Ford F-150 pickup truck. It was found on June 26, 2010, four days after the slayings, in Weston by a Cape Cod family. Members of the Cifelli family found the burned-out truck on their property about 12 miles from the trailer where the three died.

James Merrill of Cary Plantation testified Tuesday afternoon that he saw Ryan’s truck heading south on U.S. Route 1 about 8 p.m. June 22, 2010, the night of the killings. Merrill was hauling a load of logs to a mill in Baileyville.

Merrill, who is Jeffrey’s Ryan’s first cousin, told jurors the truck pulled into the driveway of a junkyard located next to Robert Strout’s property.

“I thought Jeff was driving,” Merrill testified. “I thought it was odd he was by himself because I knew he wouldn’t leave Jesse home alone. When I honked the horn, he didn’t wave or anything.”

Jesse Cifelli told the Bangor Daily News in June 2010 that he and his parents didn’t know the pickup they found on their 40-acre property off Bancroft Road was registered to Jeffrey Ryan until they went into town.

“It was completely incinerated,” Cifelli, then 20, said on June 26, 2010. “All of the interior was gone. There was nothing left, just the frame. We thought somebody went out joyriding after stealing it and torched it.

“The whole thing is just a frame and tires, and the tires were completely burnt off,” Cifelli added.

Jesse Cifelli is not listed as a potential witness at Ormsby’s trial. Daren Cifelli and Karen Cifelli, both of Weston, are on the state’s witness list.

A court security officer manned the front door to the Aroostook County Courthouse on Wednesday morning after a relative of one of the victims was arrested Tuesday after allegedly trying to influence a member of the jury.

Albert Gaudet, 52, of Standish was charged with tampering with a juror. He is a nephew of Robert Dehahn, 55, of Amity, who is the father of Jason Dehahn, according to Maine State Police.

Gaudet allegedly urged a juror to “hang the bastard.” He made the statement as the juror was entering the Aroostook County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, state police said.

After he was arrested and taken to the Aroostook County Jail, Gaudet was released 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 make his initial appearance in Aroostook County Superior Court on July 18.

The trial is scheduled to conclude on April 20. The court will be closed Monday, April 16, for Patriot’s Day. The trial will resume on Tuesday, April 17.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/11/news/aroostook/testimony-about-pickup-truck-burned-after-amity-slayings-expected-wednesday/ printed on July 13, 2014