ORIENT, Maine — An Orient man will appear before a judge on May 23 to determine how long he will be behind bars in connection with the murder of three people in Amity almost two years ago.
Robert Strout, 64, will appear in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton at 1 p.m. that day for sentencing in connection with the slayings and an August 2011 drug offense.
Strout will be sentenced before Thayne Ormsby, 22, an Ellsworth native who was convicted of three counts of murder on April 13 in the June 22, 2010, stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Ryan’s son Jesse, 10, and Ryan family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity. The victims were found dead about 27 hours after the killings at the elder Ryan’s home on U.S. Route 1, according to police. Ormsby also was found guilty of arson for burning Jeff Ryan’s truck after he stole it from the murder scene.
Strout’s first arrest came in September 2010 when he was charged with hindering apprehension and arson for his role in helping Ormsby conceal evidence in the murder investigation.
In the weeks before the killings, Ormsby lived a short distance from the crime scene at the home of Strout and his wife, Joy Strout.
Strout told police in July 2010 that a bloodied Ormsby came to his home after the slayings and threatened to kill his family if he did not take him to Weston to burn his bloody clothes and to set Ryan’s truck ablaze. Strout also drove Ormsby to a bog where he disposed of the murder weapon.
Two days later, Strout drove Ormsby to his son’s home in New Hampshire, where he was arrested.
Ormsby has denied that he threatened Robert Strout.
Strout initially pleaded not guilty to charges connected to the slayings and was out on bail when he was arrested by officers with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in August 2011 and charged with aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs and violation of bail.
Darrell Crandall, MDEA division commander, said that Strout gave his 24-year-old grandson Craig Strout-Desmond and Strout-Desmond’s girlfriend, Brianna Bonness, 24, both of Ellsworth, 170 tablets of the prescription painkiller oxycodone after the two came to his Orient home on Aug. 3. Acting on a tip, agents conducted a traffic stop and the drugs were found in a plastic bag in a console of the car. They were valued at about $3,400.
Strout, who said in court that he is disabled, refilled his prescription for 180 pills each month and then gave them to his grandson, according to Crandall. Agents developed evidence that Strout had furnished more than 150 tablets of oxycodone to Strout-Desmond on at least five separate occasions. The charge was aggravated because the amount of the drug furnished by Strout totaled about 8,000 milligrams.
Strout-Desmond and Bonness both were charged with trafficking in oxycodone and Bonness also was charged with possession of drugs and violation of conditions of release.
Robert Strout was offered a plea deal by the state in October 2011 in exchange for his testimony against Ormsby, but he ultimately was not called to the stand.
Under the agreement, Strout will serve a minimum of two years and faces up to four years in prison on all of the charges.
He already has pleaded guilty to the four charges but his sentencing was deferred until after Ormsby’s trial.
Strout has a prior criminal history, according to information revealed during a background check. He spent three months in jail on a felony charge of taking a motor vehicle without consent of the owner in 1966 and paid fines for interfering with an officer and disorderly conduct in the 1970s. Strout also was convicted of a number of hunting violations between 1986 and 2002, including trespassing, criminal trespassing, shooting from a motor vehicle or boat, discharging a firearm near a dwelling, hunting in a public way, reckless hunting, illegal possession of deer and littering. The violations were lodged in Hancock County.
Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes said Monday afternoon that his office would not discuss its sentencing recommendations publicly before the trial. He would only say that his office is free to argue for up to four years in prison for Strout.