Convicted murderer asks Maine high court to reduce his 45-year prison term

Posted March 25, 2014, at 2:59 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Tenants Harbor man sentenced last month to 45 years in prison for the shotgun slaying of a friend has asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to reduce his stay behind bars.

The petition for an appeal of the sentence was filed March 16 in Knox County Superior Court on behalf of Andrew J. Kierstead.

Kierstead was convicted in November for murder of 48-year-old Richard L. Mills outside Mills’ home on Far Meadow Lane in Cushing on Sept. 27, 2012. In February, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm imposed the 45-year sentence. In Maine, murder has a range of sentences from 25 years to life.

Kierstead will be represented in his appeal by attorney Steven Peterson of Rockport, who also represented the defendant throughout the murder trial.

In a brief notice of an intent to seek the high court’s permission to appeal the sentence, Peterson argued that the judge did not take into account mitigating factors in determining the sentence. Those mitigating factors were not listed in the appeal notice. Peterson also argued that Hjelm also placed double weight on aggravating factors.

Hjelm said last month at the hearing that he was struck by the lack of remorse by Kierstead. 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.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea had asked for 45 years, 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.

Contrary to claims Kierstead made after the shooting, Zainea said there was no evidence that Mills had been a drug supplier to Kierstead. She also said Kierstead had been using drugs since he was a teenager.

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