HOULTON, Maine — A local teenager accused of killing a 61-year-old Houlton man last year can be prosecuted as an adult, a District Court judge has ruled.
Both have been charged with murder in connection with the death of Suitter at his home at 412 Hillview Ave.
Geary, who is now 17 and has been held in a state juvenile facility, appeared before Aroostook County District Court Judge Bernard O’Mara from April 12 to 17 for a bind-over hearing to determine if he would be tried as a juvenile or an adult. Geary entered a plea of denial in juvenile court, which is equivalent to a not guilty plea in adult proceedings.
In a 15-page ruling issued on April 24 and released Friday, O’Mara wrote that the state had shown probable cause to believe that murder had been committed and that “Samuel Geary, together with another, had committed the crime.” O’Mara also said that the juvenile had failed to establish “by a preponderance of the evidence” that it was not appropriate to prosecute him as an adult.
The case against Geary now will be presented to a grand jury.
Dobbins pleaded not guilty to the charge in June and is being held without bail in the Aroostook County Jail.
Geary’s attorney, Krispen Culbertson, said Friday that he and his client were “disappointed” by the ruling. He said that they were happy for the opportunity to put on a case and get Sam’s story out there as “a loving son, grandson and productive member of society.”
“We intend to fight this vigorously,” he said.
The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Suitter testified on the first day of Geary’s bind-over hearing that the victim suffered 21 blunt-force trauma blows, mostly to the head, which appeared to have been inflicted by a hammer, and 10 stab wounds to the head and back,
Geary also testified on April 12 about the night of the killing, blaming much of what happened on Dobbins and stating that he was pressured to participate.
Geary said that he spent most of the late afternoon of March 1, 2015, drinking vodka and smoking pot at Dobbins’ home until he became so drunk that he passed out and vomited several times.
He testified that he asked to be taken home so he could meet his 6 p.m. curfew, and got into a car with Dobbins and Dobbins’ mother. The two were dropped off a short distance from the victim’s mobile home.
“He told me we were going to stop and pick up some weed,” Geary testified as the reason for the detour to the Suitter home, adding that he had never seen Suitter before.
He testified that Dobbins, who was dressed in a long black quilted coat, knocked on Suitter’s door and when the victim opened it, Dobbins told him that they had crashed their car and needed to use the phone.
When Suitter turned around to let them into the home, Geary testified, Dobbins pulled a hammer out of his jacket and began hitting Suitter. After Dobbins was done striking the victim, Geary said, Dobbins started rifling through the mobile home.
Geary then testified that Dobbins told him to “stab the guy” with a knife that Dobbins had given him earlier that day because he knew Geary collected knives.
Geary said that he “tried to stab him” but the knife didn’t open all the way, and he instead cut himself, which angered Dobbins. Dobbins then took the knife and stabbed the victim, according to Geary.
Dobbins then got behind the wheel of Suitter’s truck and drove off but crashed the truck in a snowbank a short distance away. Dobbins and Geary later were picked up by Dobbins’ father, Geary testified.
Suitter was found dead in his home after two friends discovered his abandoned truck and went to check on him.
Culbertson, Geary’s attorney, maintained during the hearing that the murder was a “drug-related robbery.”
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who represented the state in the bind-over hearing, could not be reached for comment on the ruling Friday.