PORTLAND, Maine — A 22-year-old Mexico man is appealing his 45-year sentence for a double killing in Rumford.
Eric Hamel is challenging the sentence he received in 2011 after pleading guilty to two counts of murder in the 2009 shooting deaths of two men.
In his appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Hamel argues that the lower court abused its discretion in sentencing him to a longer term than that of his two co-conspirators, thereby creating an inequality in violation of state law.
Justices are scheduled to hear his appeal on Jan. 16.
Hamel was the last of three accomplices sentenced in the August 2009 shootings of Roger Leroy Day Jr., 48, and Victor Reed Sheldon, inside Day’s Pine Street home.
On Aug. 22, 2011, Richard Moulton was sentenced to 40 years after pleading guilty to two counts of murder for his role in the killings. Gayla Sheldon, Moulton’s girlfriend and Victor Sheldon’s estranged wife, was sentenced in July 2011 to 15 years for helping to plan the killings.
According to police reports, Hamel told investigators that he met with Moulton on three or four occasions to plan the killings.
Hamel said Moulton was upset with Sheldon and that Gayla was afraid the two children she had with Sheldon would be taken away if Sheldon went to jail.
Hamel told police he agreed to kill the two men for $2,000, and that he stole a .38-caliber handgun from a neighbor’s house. Moulton went to Day’s house on the evening of Aug. 3, but Hamel said Moulton went into the bathroom when he saw Hamel outside.
After the killings, Hamel later led police to where he had hidden the weapon in woods off Oak Street. Moulton originally said he did not know the shooter but later identified Hamel.
Hamel, then 20, pleaded guilty to the double murder charge on Sept. 23, 2010, in the Paris court. Justice Robert W. Clifford sentenced Hamel on Sept. 29, 2011, to a 45-year prison sentence.
In his judgment, Clifford said he had to account for the shorter sentences that Moulton and Gayla Sheldon received.
Clifford said an important factor in the sentencing was to avoid major inequalities among the jail terms of those convicted in the killings. He called the decision “difficult” and said Hamel’s role didn’t greatly exceed the roles of the other two involved.
At Hamel’s sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson argued for 50 years, the longest sentence allowed under a deal Hamel made in 2010 in exchange for agreeing to testify against Gayla Sheldon and Moulton, Hamel’s high school friend.
Mitigating factors, however, included Hamel’s cooperation with investigators, his lack of a criminal record and his acceptance of responsibility.
After the sentencing, Benson said 45 years was “well within the range of reasonable sentences.”