State seeks 45 years for Tenants Harbor man convicted of murder

Andrew Kierstead in October
Stephen Betts
Andrew Kierstead in October
Posted Feb. 21, 2014, at 9:19 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 21, 2014, at 11:09 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The attorney general’s office is recommending a 45-year prison sentence for a Tenants Harbor man convicted of gunning down his friend 17 months ago.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea submitted her recommendation this week for Andrew J. Kierstead, 41, who is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 25, in Knox County Superior Court.

Kierstead was convicted of murder in November after a jury deliberated for three hours following a weeklong trial. Kierstead was convicted in the shotgun slaying of 48-year-old Richard L. Mills on Sept. 27, 2012, outside the victim’s house on Far Meadow Lane in Cushing.

Kierstead claimed that Mills had hooked him on drugs, but Zainea disputed that contention in her sentencing memorandum filed with the court this week. She said Kierstead used drugs long before he met Mills and had dabbled in drugs as a teen.

The prosecutor contended that Kierstead had started out using marijuana and then experimented with LSD and hallucinogenic mushrooms. She said his first source of opiates was from his parents’ medicine cabinet at home.

Zainea said that another aggravating factor is Kierstead’s lack of empathy for his friend. The prosecutor pointed out that Kierstead shot Mills in the abdomen with a 12-gauge shotgun and then pursued the victim to continue firing four more shots. Testimony at the trial showed that Kierstead had lured Mills out of the house on the premise that his truck had some type of mechanical problem and then pulled out the shotgun.

In addition to the 45 years, Zainea wants Kierstead to pay restitution of $3,107 for Mills’ funeral expenses. She also wants Justice Jeffrey Hjelm to order the forfeiture of Kierstead’s shotgun to the state.

The sentencing for murder in Maine ranges from 25 years to life in prison.

There are also letters in the court file from family members of Mills, explaining the effect that Mills’ death has had on them. Mills’ mother expressed frustration that Kierstead’s false claims about her son dealing drugs to him were published by the media. She said her son was not dealing drugs.

Defense attorney Steven Peterson submitted 15 letters to the court from family and friends of Kierstead asking for leniency. Some letter writers cited Kierstead’s battle with drug addiction while others said he had helped them on things such as home repairs.

Kierstead had been a carpenter.

Kierstead telephoned 911 several hours after he shot Mills and then took some more drugs. He claimed in the 911 call and later interviews with police that he shot Mills after the man refused to give him some more pain pills.

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