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Ormsby sentencing scheduled for June 7

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Thayne Ormsby turns his gaze toward the media on the day of the opening statements in his triple homicide trial in superior court in Houlton on Monday, April 9, 2012.
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — Fifteen days before the second anniversary of the slayings, convicted triple murderer Thayne Ormsby, 21, will be sentenced for his crimes.

The Ellsworth native will be sentenced at 9 a.m. on June 7 in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton, Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes said late Monday.

Stokes said it is a “pretty safe bet” that the state will seek a life sentence for the killer.

Ormsby was convicted on April 13 in 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 elder Ryan’s home on U.S. Route 1, according to police. All three died of multiple stab wounds. Ormsby also was found guilty of arson for burning Jeff Ryan’s truck after he stole it from the murder scene.

Ormsby entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges. Because of the dual pleas, Ormsby was tried in two phases before Justice E. Allen Hunter. He was represented by attorneys James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire of Presque Isle and found guilty of the murders first on April 13 and then criminally responsible for his crimes on April 19.

Ormsby moved to Orient in the weeks before the murders to live with Robert and Joy Strout. Court testimony revealed that there was animosity between the Strout family and Jeff Ryan because Ryan had once had a relationship with Tamara Strout, Robert and Joy’s daughter. There was a significant age difference between the two, and Tamara Strout eventually had a child with Ryan. Strout also told Ormsby that Ryan was a drug dealer, which there is no evidence to support.

The defense contended that Ormsby was suffering from a delusional disorder, a type of psychosis in which the sufferer feels that something is happening to them or around them when it really isn’t.

LeClaire focused on testimony offered by Dr. Kathryn Thomas, a psychologist who interviewed the killer and completed psychological tests on him. Thomas characterized Ormsby as a young man who was abused and neglected by his mother and who thought it was his job to kill Jeff Ryan.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who tried the case with Stokes, argued that Ormsby was not psychotic because he knew what he was doing was wrong and that in order to get away with killing Jeff Ryan, he had to kill the other two victims to eliminate all witnesses. Ormsby also went to great lengths to try to evade capture by removing items from the home that he thought had his fingerprints on them, burning his bloody clothing and fleeing the state.

Benson also said that the killer was aware enough to deny his involvement when questioned by state police detectives in late June in New Hampshire, and again during part of a July 2, 2010, interview.

Dr. Debra Baeder, chief forensic psychologist at the State Forensic Service, also testified that while Ormsby was not mentally healthy, he did not have a delusional disorder and was not psychotic.

Ormsby faces 25 years to life in prison on each murder charge.

Robert Strout, 64, will appear in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on May 23 on charges of hindering apprehension and arson for his role in helping Ormsby conceal evidence in the murder investigation.

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. Strout was arrested on Sept. 10 after being indicted by an Aroostook County grand jury. He was released on bail a few days later, but then arrested again in August 2011 for aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs and violation of bail.

Under a plea 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 charges.

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