Inmate charged with manslaughter in 2009 death of another prisoner

Posted July 14, 2011, at 8:11 p.m.
Last modified July 15, 2011, at 9:50 a.m.

WARREN, Maine — A Maine State Prison inmate has been indicted on a manslaughter charge in connection with the death of another inmate at the prison two years ago.

John Thibeault, 32, formerly of Brewer and Orono, was indicted by the Knox County grand jury on Thursday.

The indictment, which did not offer much detail, indicates that “Thibeault did recklessly or with criminal negligence cause the death of Sheldon Weinstein,” who was 64 when he died in the Maine State Prison in April 2009.

Weinstein, who used a wheelchair, died of blunt force injuries suffered at the hands of other inmates, according to Bangor Daily News reports at the time. Within days of his death, Maine State Police were investigating the case as a homicide.

Weinstein’s wife’s attorney said in June that he expected multiple indictments of prisoners in relation to what he called an assault on Weinstein that led to his death.

In 2009, Weinstein’s wife,Janet, threatened a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit against the prison. That remains a possibility, attorney Scott Gardner told the BDN last month. He said he continues to negotiate with the state concerning the case.

Maine Department of Corrections Associate Commissioner Jody Breton confirmed that Thibeault is a prisoner but could not give any other information about the alleged crime.

According to a criminal record obtained electronically Thursday night from the Maine State Bureau of Identification, Thibeault is serving a 15-year sentence for a 1997 robbery. Thibeault, who has a tattoo of a peace sign on his leg and a joker on his back, was only supposed to serve six years of the sentence but he has had his probation revoked several times for undisclosed reasons, which has kept him in prison.

One prison employee was fired and another was demoted in connection with Weinstein’s death, according to BDN archives.

No other details were immediately available about Thursday’s indictment. Neither Gardner nor Bill Stokes, chief of the Maine attorney general’s criminal division, could be reached for comment late Thursday.

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