PORTLAND, Maine — The Bangor man convicted of stabbing an Old Town teenager in a “thrill killing” on the Bangor Waterfront in 2009 lost his appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Koehler, who stabbed Boutilier in the abdomen and slit her throat, was found guilty by a jury of intentional or knowing murder in October 2010 after a five-day trial at the Penobscot Judicial Center and appealed the decision in April.
The seven members of Maine’s high court on Thursday unanimously upheld the lower court’s decision.
“Faced with the senseless, unprovoked, cold-blooded murder of a young woman by a defendant who showed a chillingly remorseless response to his own act, the court’s ultimate decision that Koehler should never be at liberty in society again is fully supported in Maine law,” Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said in the final decision.
Koehler challenged several rulings on evidence, procedure, motions and jury instructions and challenged his life sentence, primarily on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation, his lack of a criminal history, and that mental evaluations didn’t show psychological or psychiatric disorders linked to criminality.
The state’s high court dismissed each challenge and determined that the murder was premeditated, and that Koehler killed the teenaged girl, who he met the day before, to demonstrate to his jealous ex-girlfriend that he was not sleeping with her.
“Koehler brought his knife with him and used it to commit the crime,” the supreme court’s final decision states. “His motive for the murder — to prove to [his ex-girlfriend] that he was not involved with the victim — was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘senseless.’”
It also states that, “Koehler placed no value on the victim’s life whatsoever” and “that Koehler lacked remorse, was nonchalant about the gravity of the crime, was willing to persuade and pressure others to lie for him, and committed a crime that resulted in the victim’s death and had a devastating impact on her family.”
A Bangor transient found the young woman’s body on Aug. 9, 2009, in a small shack hidden among trees along the banks of the Penobscot River in Bangor between the end of Dutton Street and the Veterans’ Remembrance Bridge.
Gene Boutilier, Holly’s father, was among a number of the victim’s family members and friends present during the April Supreme Judicial Court hearing in Portland.
“This has been long and drawn out,” the grieving father told the Bangor Daily News after the hearing. “The [life] sentence should rest the way it was. I hope this is the end. None of us need to go through this again.”
During the hearing, Saufley said the life sentence was based on the original judge’s belief that the murder of Boutilier was so unpredictable — a so-called “thrill kill” — there would be no way of being sure the killer wouldn’t do it again if eventually released.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson called Boutilier’s murder “a premeditated execution done in an extremely cruel fashion” during Koehler’s sentencing.
The judge also said that “there was absolutely no explanation for [the defendant's] conduct that made sense” and that Koehler’s motivation for stabbing his victim was “virtually the same as killing for the thrill of killing.”
BDN reporters Judy Harrison and Seth Koenig contributed to this story.