HOULTON, Maine — A Linneus man and convicted felon who was sentenced last fall to 10 years in prison for attempting to burglarize a Mechanic Street apartment has lost an appeal of his convictions to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
A decision in the case against Brian S. Paquin, 48, was handed down on May 1.
Paquin was found guilty after a jury trial in June 2011 on one count of burglary with a firearm and two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. He entered a no-contest plea to one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and was found guilty.
He was sentenced in Aroostook County Superior Court by Justice E. Allen Hunter to 20 years with all but 10 years suspended on the burglary charge, along with four years probation, and five years each on the remaining charges, to be served concurrently.
Paquin appealed the burglary and criminal threatening charges to the state supreme court, but did not appeal charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He was represented on the appeal by Sarah LeClaire, a Presque Isle attorney.
Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Kafferlin represented the state.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court decided the case on the legal briefs that were filed without hearing any oral arguments.
During a hearing last fall, Kafferlin told Hunter that Paquin spent time at a Mechanic Street apartment, where he met three of the victims. He then left. Although Paquin was not allowed to possess a firearm because of his felony record, he took a gun from his girlfriend’s home in Linneus and asked her to drive him back to the Mechanic Street apartment around 11 p.m. Kafferlin said that one of the victims testified that when he heard a knock on the door and answered it, he opened it to see Paquin come in with a gun. The victim and Paquin struggled over the gun while another victim called the police. One of the victims suffered minor injuries.
Kafferlin said that two of the victims were so frightened that they moved away with their children.
Paquin, who was represented at trial by attorney Torrey Sylvester of New Limerick, has a lengthy criminal history, including a felony conviction from 1997 in Rhode Island for assault with intent to commit robbery. He served four years in prison and was sentenced to 16 years of probation for that charge. He subsequently transferred his probation to Maine and was being supervised in Aroostook County at the time he was charged with the burglary. Paquin also has a criminal history in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including convictions for multiple counts of larceny, burglary, disorderly conduct, possession of cocaine and violating probation. Once in Maine, he was convicted twice of operating under the influence and of operating after suspension and assault.
Sylvester said last year that Paquin only intended to go to the apartment to show the gun to an acquaintance. He said that Paquin was a skilled, hardworking man who was active in his church and had even done work on two residences owned by Sylvester and his wife. He also worked on the First Baptist Church in Houlton, which he attended. Arthur Meyers, the minister at the church, also said that Paquin was a hard worker. Paquin worked at the home of another local lawyer, Forrest Barnes, who characterized him to Hunter as a friend who he felt would be a good candidate for probation.
Sylvester pointed out that the gun that Paquin was carrying was unloaded, and said that the accused did not inflict serious injury on his victims.
Paquin told Hunter that he only wanted to bring the gun to the apartment to show it off.
In his appeal, Paquin argued that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions for burglary and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. In a brief memorandum of decision, the supreme court justices found that the jury rationally could have found beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the offenses charged. They also rejected his argument that statements made by Kafferlin in his closing argument denied Paquin a fair trial. The court documents did not specify which statements, but the justices said they found no fault with Kafferlin’s argument and noted that Gould did not object to the prosecutor’s statements when he was in court last year.
“I was happy to see that the court readily recognized that Mr. Paquin’s claims lacked merit,” Kafferlin said Thursday.