MARS HILL, Maine — A local man arrested and charged in April 2011 with several crimes, including solicitation of murder, pleaded guilty to three crimes during a court appearance on Monday.
Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins said Tuesday that Mark Stetson, 43, pleaded guilty in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou to solicitation of murder, solicitation of kidnapping and solicitation of robbery. A jury had been selected for a trial that was to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 15, but Stetson changed his mind and instead entered guilty pleas on Monday. He appeared with his attorney, Luke Rossignol of Presque Isle.
The case started when Stetson first was arrested in March 2009 and charged with domestic violence terrorizing for threats made against a woman. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the woman because she is considered a victim.
Later that same month, Stetson was charged with violation of condition of release for having prohibited contact with the woman, according to Collins.
Collins said Stetson was charged in a number of other incidents involving the woman in 2010 and 2011. He was in and out of jail on multiple charges including domestic violence stalking, violation of a protective order and violation of condition of release.
At one point, while being transported by Maine State Police, Stetson made multiple threats to kill the woman. The statements were recorded on the trooper’s in-car camera, according to Collins. Stetson was then held without bail.
In late January 2011, while Stetson was being held without bail, another inmate at the jail approached jail staff and reported that Stetson had offered to pay him if he would kill the woman.
Lt. Larry Goff of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the informant’s allegations.
Collins said Goff discovered that the other inmate, who was being held on charges out of Penobscot County and was previously unfamiliar with Stetson, had detailed information regarding the woman. The inmate also showed Goff directions and notes along with a rough drawing of the interior of the woman’s residence, which he indicated was drawn by Stetson.
Collins said Goff then coordinated his efforts with other members of his own department as well as members of the State Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Aroostook County District Attorney’s Office.
The other inmate agreed to wear a recording device and initiate another conversation with Stetson, Collins said. He told Stetson that he was getting out on bail and needed the information again. While being recorded, Stetson once again gave detailed information as to the woman’s location and schedule. The two discussed details about how the individual would break into the woman’s home, shoot her twice to make sure she was dead, steal items from the home and tie up a minor child, according to the district attorney.
Collins said that Stetson wanted assurances that they would keep the information between them and allegedly told the other inmate, “If they bug this place I’m gonna go to jail forever.”
Stetson was indicted in March 2011 on three counts of criminal solicitation.
Collins said that this was the sixth in a series of six cases involving Stetson. Prior to this case being set for trial, Stetson was convicted and sentenced in all five of the prior cases. The specific sentences were not available after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, but Collins said Stetson is currently serving out the time at the Maine State Prison.
Collins said that Stetson did not receive a plea deal in the latest case and is subject to the full sentencing authority of the court. The most serious offense, criminal solicitation of murder, is a Class A crime and carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The other offenses, criminal solicitation of kidnapping and robbery, are Class B crimes and carry maximum sentences of 10 years of confinement.
Stetson is not expected to be sentenced on those charges for several months.