BANGOR, Maine — Jurors found Sidney Kilmartin, 54, of South Windham guilty on Tuesday of mailing cyanide to an Englishman who used it to commit suicide.
The jury of three women and nine men found Kilmartin not guilty of witness retaliation in connection with the suicide death of Andrew Denton of Hull, England, on Dec. 31, 2012.
Denton complained to the FBI that the fake cyanide did not work. After that, Kilmartin sent the real poison to the Englishman, according to prosecutors.
Jurors deliberated for about 2½ hours before finding Kilmartin guilty of two counts of wire fraud and one count each of mail fraud, mailing injurious articles resulting in death and witness tampering.
Kilmartin showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Members of Denton’s family were not at the courthouse Tuesday but members of Kilmartin’s family and friends sat behind him during closing arguments and as the verdict was read.
Kilmartin’s attorney, Martin Ridge of Portland, said in his closing statement that Denton, who had a history of suicide attempts, possessed the cyanide for 11 days before he dissolved it in a liquid and drank it.
“Common sense would say that Mr. Denton killed Mr. Denton,” Ridge said. “Mr. Kilmartin took no step to kill Mr. Denton. You can’t overlook the fact that Mr. Denton willingly and knowingly took his own life.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank, who prosecuted the case, told jurors Tuesday that the evidence he presented during the trial proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Kilmartin “defrauded suicidal people and when Denton complained to the FBI, Kilmartin killed him.”
That evidence included emails between Kilmartin and Denton and others, the packages sent to Denton and others that contained Epsom salts, receipts for Western Union money wires, deposits to Kilmartin’s credit union account and the online complaint filed by Denton with the FBI, Frank told jurors.
Frank declined to comment on the verdict. It is the practice of the U.S. attorney’s office not to comment on cases until after a defendant is sentenced.
Efforts to reach Ridge for comment were unsuccessful late Tuesday afternoon.
Concerning why Kilmartin was found guilty of witness tampering but not retaliation, the difference appears to be in the intent of the defendant, according to court documents. In witness tampering, the defendant is motivated by a desire “to prevent the communication between any person and law enforcement authorities concerning the commission or possible commission of an offense.”
The elements of retaliation are that a defendant knowingly engaged in conduct that caused the death of another person, and the defendant acted with the intent to retaliate against any person for providing information to law enforcement about the commission of a federal offense.
The trial began Oct. 3 in U.S. District Court after Kilmartin pleaded guilty earlier in the day to nine counts of mail and wire fraud. Kilmartin admitted defrauding suicidal people who paid him for potassium cyanide but received Epsom salts instead. He denied the counts related to Denton’s death.
None of the victims defrauded in those instances died, and three of them testified for the prosecution last week.
Kilmartin obtained the potassium cyanide from a California firm by saying he needed the chemical for his jewelry business. He had it mailed to a UPS store in Augusta, according to testimony. Kilmartin is not a jeweler, according to court documents.
Kilmartin, who has a history of mental illness, was living in the community but legally was in the custody of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services when he executed the Epsom salts scheme, according to court documents. He was found not criminally responsible in 2009 for crimes he was accused of committing two years earlier, including an aggravated assault on an elderly man.
In October 2015, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock, who presided over the trial, found Kilmartin competent to stand trial on the federal charges.
On the mail and wire fraud counts, Kilmartin faces up to 20 years in prison.
On the charges connected to Denton’s death, Kilmartin faces life in prison.
A sentencing date has not been set.