ROCKLAND, Maine — A Maine State Prison inmate who was accused of attacking a guard last year will serve additional time behind bars but was offered a plea deal because the corrections officer he was accused of assaulting had since been convicted of a felony.
Michael Turner, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court to a felony assault on an officer as well as criminal mischief and obstructing the report of a crime. The plea, however, was an Alford plea in which Turner contested the charge but agreed that the prosecution had sufficient evidence to get a conviction.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm agreed to the sentence reached between the prosecution and defense in which Turner would receive an additional 18 months behind bars. The potential maximum sentence for aggravated assault, which he could have been charged with, was 30 years.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred July 5, 2011, at the Maine State Prison in Warren.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said Turner was charged with punching the corrections officer in the face for no apparent reason and then kicking him in the face. The guard suffered a broken nose and cuts and bruises.
Fernald said there had been discussions of using the restorative justice system as part of the sentencing but the victim, who would be required to participate, was no longer welcomed at the prison because he had been convicted of a felony. The prosecutor said the prosecution would not have had any witnesses to the assault other than the victim.
Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said he had other inmates who would have testified that the incident was either borderline self-defense or was mutual aggression between the corrections officer Randall Carl and his client Turner. The defense attorney said Carl had since been convicted of felony cruelty to animals.
Carl, 46, of Knox was convicted in April of aggravated animal cruelty for using an illegally trapped bobcat to train bluetick coonhounds and the bobcat ended up being killed by the dogs. The act was videotaped. In addition to a jail sentence, probation and fine, Carl lost his job at the prison.
Referring to the agreement as a compromise, Justice Hjelm sentenced Turner to 18 months additional time in prison.
Turner has a record that includes felony aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and violation of probation.