Newport man denied new trial in death of father; aggravated animal cruelty statute upheld

Perley Goodrich Jr. (right) looks toward his mother and sister on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, as they approach the podium to address the court at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor during Goodrich's sentencing in the shooting death of his father in October 2009. With Goodrich is his attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor.
Perley Goodrich Jr. (right) looks toward his mother and sister on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, as they approach the podium to address the court at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor during Goodrich's sentencing in the shooting death of his father in October 2009. With Goodrich is his attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor.
Posted June 21, 2012, at 3:06 p.m.
Last modified June 21, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday upheld the manslaughter conviction of a Newport man who killed his father and assaulted his mother. It also affirmed the aggravated animal cruelty conviction of a Montville man.

The court issued a one-page memorandum of decision in which it upheld the jury’s findings in the manslaughter trial of Perley Goodrich Jr. but did not explain its reasons for doing so.

Bangor attorney Zachary Brandmeir argued before justices last week in Bangor that Goodrich, convicted of manslaughter in the death of his father and of an assault on his mother in October 2009, should be granted a new trial because the judge did not halt his trial in March 2011 when Goodrich did not receive a prescribed dosage of medication from staff at the Penobscot County Jail before the trial.

Brandmeir, who was not Goodrich’s attorney during the trial, told the law court that Superior Court Justice William Anderson should have delayed the trial or held a hearing to determine Goodrich’s competency when his trial attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, reported his client as not being engaged in the proceedings.

Goodrich, who was indicted for murder but convicted of manslaughter, was sentenced in May 2011 to 15 years in prison, with all but eight years suspended, for manslaughter and aggravated assault. In a second phase of the trial, he was found criminally responsible for his actions rather than not guilty by reason of insanity.

The high court on Thursday also affirmed the aggravated animal cruelty conviction of Corey Robinson, 31, of Montville in a separate memorandum of decision. The justices last week also heard oral arguments in that case, which centered on the accidental death of a bobcat.

The case stemmed from an incident in February 2009 when Robinson and three other men tried to train their blue tick hunting dogs using a bobcat captured in a cage trap and kept in a garage overnight, according to briefs filed in the case.

The bobcat died the next day, Feb. 13, 2009, in a wooded area near Troy when the men tried to get it out of the cage using a catch-pole. When the catch-pole, described as a long pole with a leash at the end, apparently malfunctioned, the bobcat struggled against the leash while the dogs attacked it, the briefs said.

One of Robinson’s hunting companions captured the bobcat’s death on videotape and estimated it took the animal about three minutes or more to die once released from the cage, according to the briefs.

Robinson, who worked as a prison guard with the Department of Corrections, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class C crime, and violation of closed-season trapping, a Class E crime. A Waldo County jury found him guilty on Oct. 25, 2011, on both counts after a two-day trial. Superior Court Justice Robert E. Murray Jr. sentenced Robinson to 15 months in prison with all but 10 days suspended and two years of probation and a $1,000 fine on the cruelty charge and to a concurrent 10-day sentence on the trapping violation. Unless he is granted another stay, Robinson will have to begin serving his sentence before the end of the month.

In his appeal, Robinson asked the justices to set aside the jury’s verdict on the felony charge because the statute was too vague.

Robinson’s attorney, Thomas S. Marjerison of Portland, who did not represent Robinson at his trial, argued that the events that led up to the bobcat’s death did not constitute “depraved indifference to animal life” as the law requires. Marjerison said in his brief that the high court’s previous ruling in a domestic violence case that found the term was not constitutionally vague does not apply to the facts in Robinson’s case.

The justices Thursday rejected that argument.

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