May 27, 2018
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Hearing not yet scheduled for appeal in Amity triple slaying sentence

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Thayne Ormsby turns his gaze toward the media on the day of the opening statements in his triple homicide trial in superior court in Houlton on Monday, April 9, 2012.
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine —The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has not yet scheduled a hearing in the appeal of a 23-year-old man sentenced last June to three life terms in prison for killing three people in a rural home in Amity in June 2010. But a hearing will be scheduled after documents in the case are filed in May.

An official with the Supreme Court said Thursday that the state must file briefs in the Thayne Ormsby appeal case by May 14. After that happens, he said, a hearing likely will take place in the fall.

The notice of appeal and application to allow an appeal of sentencing on behalf of Ormsby were filed last June 27 in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou. They were then sent to the high court for review.

Ormsby was convicted on April 13, 2012, in the stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Ryan’s son Jesse, 10, and Ryan family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity, on June 22, 2010. They were found dead about 27 hours after the killings at the elder Ryan’s home on U.S. Route 1 in Aroostook, according to police. All three died of multiple stab wounds.

Ormsby, an Ellsworth native who moved to Orient, a town just a mile from the crime scene, entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges. Because of the dual pleas, Ormsby was tried in two phases before Justice E. Allen Hunter in Superior Court in Houlton. He was represented by attorneys James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire of Presque Isle and first found guilty of the murders on April 13 and then criminally responsible for his crimes on April 19.

Ormsby also was found guilty of arson for burning Jeff Ryan’s truck after he stole it from the murder scene, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for that crime. That sentence is being served consecutively with the life sentences.

Ormsby moved to Orient in the weeks before the murders to live with Robert and Joy Strout. According to court records, Robert Strout told Ormsby that Ryan was a drug dealer, which there is no evidence to support.

Strout eventually confessed to hindering apprehension and arson for his role in helping Ormsby conceal evidence in the murder investigation. He is serving a four year prison sentence on those charges and on an August 2011 drug offense.

During the trial, Ormsby’s attorneys said he did not understand that what he was doing was wrong when he committed the murders. They characterized Ormsby as a young man who was abused and neglected by his mother and who thought it was his job to kill Jeff Ryan based on the drug-dealing accusations. They also stressed testimony by a psychologist who testified that Ormsby was suffering from a delusional disorder, a type of psychosis in which the sufferer feels that something is happening to him or around him when it really isn’t. She said that in his mind, the slayings would elevate his status as an assassin.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson dismissed that argument, saying Ormsby was not psychotic because he knew what he was doing was wrong and that in order to get away with killing Jeff Ryan, he had to kill the other two victims to eliminate all witnesses. Ormsby also confessed to the killings during an interview with State Police Detectives Dale Keegan and Adam Stoutamyer, which was recorded on video.

The jury deliberated for two hours before finding him criminally responsible for the crimes.

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