May 22, 2018
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Howland man gets 17 months in prison for beating that outraged community

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — One of four men charged in connection with the vicious beating of two men that outraged the Howland community a year ago will spend 17 months behind bars.

Henry R. McKinnon, 28, of Howland was sentenced Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to six years with all but 17 months suspended and three years of probation. McKinnon pleaded no contest in June to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of violating his bail conditions. He admitted Thursday to violating his bail conditions a second time.

In addition to prison time, Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered McKinnon to pay $10,000 in restitution toward the victims’ medical bills.

The medical bills so far total $146,075 for the two victims, Alice Clifford, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, told the judge. About $60,000 was for one victim and the rest was for treatment of the other.

One victim appeared at Thursday’s sentencing. He did not comment on the sentence but expressed concern that the bills would not be paid and his credit would be affected forever. He told Anderson that he could not afford to pay the bills.

Neither victim, now 31 and 32, was covered by private insurance or MaineCare at the time of the beating, Clifford told the judge.

Anderson said that the law required that he order defendants to pay restitution based on their ability to pay, not on the amount of restitution owed. He ordered McKinnon to pay $100 a month toward restitution after he completes his sentence.

Defense attorney David Bate of Bangor said that his client had graduated from high school but had not attended college or technical school. Bate said the few jobs McKinnon has held were minimum wage and infrequent.

Anderson suggest the victim try to get help paying his medical bills through the Victims’ Compensation Fund, which is funded by fees defendants are assessed when they are sentenced for crimes in which there are victims. McKinnon on Thursday was ordered to pay $80 to the fund.

The beatings prompted a meeting held about 10 days after the assaults between about 200 community members and Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross, whose deputies patrol the town.

“I think part of the problem is that everybody feels afraid,” Howland resident Marisa LeBlanc said in August 2012.

Many residents said they were “fed up” with individuals like those involved in the assault, who they say have caused drug and crime problems in the community for years.

Others were frustrated with youths who ride skateboards recklessly in the streets, staying out late and making noise late into the night and early in the morning. The youths and individuals residents blame for drug problems and disturbances in town frequently were referred to as “little punks” during the meeting.

No one who identified themselves as a Howland resident addressed the judge Thursday.

Others charged in connection with the assaults were: McKinnon’s brother John T. McKinnon, 23, of Howland; Charles Gardner, 21, of Howland; and Brandon Summerson, 22, of Enfield. The fight reportedly took place over an alleged drug sale on Aug. 17, 2012, and the victims suffered broken facial bones, broken ribs and knocked-out teeth, according to a previously published report. The assault took place outdoors at the junction of Caron Drive and River Road.

Summerson was sentenced last month to eight years in prison with all but 3½ years suspended and three years of probation, according to a previously published report. He pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated assault.

He was not ordered to pay restitution because at the time Summerson was sentenced the bills had not been made available to the district attorney’s office, Clifford said Thursday.

The prosecutor said that Summerson’s sentence was longer than Henry McKinnon’s because Summerson “had greater culpability” in committing the crimes.

John McKinnon and Gardner have pleaded not guilty to the same charges and requested jury-waived trials. Their trials are scheduled to be held next month.

In addition to two counts of aggravated assault, Gardner also was charged with elevated aggravated assault.

John McKinnon and Gardner remain free on bail.

The maximum sentence for elevated aggravated assault is 30 years in prison, while the maximum sentence for aggravated assault is 10 years in prison.

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