Tenants Harbor man gets 45 years for shotgun slaying of friend

Andrew J. Kierstead is led into the Knox County Superior Court on Tuesday morning. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the murder of Richard L. Mills.
Stephen Betts
Andrew J. Kierstead is led into the Knox County Superior Court on Tuesday morning. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the murder of Richard L. Mills.
Posted Feb. 25, 2014, at 11:52 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 25, 2014, at 1:28 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Andrew J. Kierstead was sentenced Tuesday morning to 45 years in prison for the shotgun slaying of a friend 17 months ago.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said he was struck by the lack of remorse shown by Kierstead following the Sept. 27, 2012, shooting of 48-year-old Richard L. Mills outside his home on Far Meadow Lane in Cushing.

The judge pointed out that Kierstead blamed his addiction and blamed Mills for what had occurred. The judge also said that Kierstead did not call for help or provide assistance to the victim after the shooting.

Mills’ family members spoke during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and repeatedly said that Kierstead not only took Mills’ life but also his reputation. They said the only person who ever accused Mills of being involved in drugs was the man who killed him.

Instead, they described Mills as a good friend who was kind and generous. His sister, Shelly Temple, said that her brother loved to donate to Toys for Tots.

Hjelm referred to that those qualities as he imposed the sentence on Kierstead.

Melissa Post said her brother was a hard worker at Haskell’s Water Treatment until his back problem became so severe that he could no longer do the work. She said he was an avid talker, loved to hunt, fish and watch New England Patriots football games.

His sisters also said that his grandchild was born a few weeks after his death and the child will never get to know his grandfather.

“Andrew Kierstead imposed a death sentence on Richard and a life sentence for us without Richard,” Post said.

Assistant District Attorney Leane Zainea had asked for a 45-year sentence, arguing that Kierstead lured Mills outside the house on the pretense of needing him to look at a mechanical problem with his vehicle. Kierstead then took a loaded 12-gauge shotgun from his truck and shot Mills in the abdomen. He pursued the victim to continue firing four more shots.

Kierstead spoke at the hearing, saying he still struggles to explain why it happened.

“I’m not the monster the state has made me out to be,” Kierstead said.

He said he has been free of drugs since his arrest 17 months ago and has gained clarity in his life.

“The person that was interviewed that night is not the same person before you today,” Kierstead said.

Kierstead was convicted of murder in November after a jury deliberated for three hours following a weeklong trial.

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.

Relatives of both Mills and Kierstead filled the courtroom for Tuesday’s sentencing.

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

 

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