A Dixmont man who has been hospitalized since being shot by police in June made his first court appearance Monday morning by video at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Michael Grendell, 61, has been a patient at Maine Medical Center in Portland since he was shot the morning of June 29, when police drew him out of his home after detonating an explosive and he continued to advance toward them with a firearm, according to Col. John Cote, chief of the Maine State Police. The standoff began June 28 when police went talk with Grendell about a problem with a neighbor.
On Monday afternoon, after the court appearance, Grendell’s lawyer David Bate of Bangor compared how police handled the situation at Grendell’s home to the controversial way the FBI handled a 1993 weekslong standoff with members of the religious cult, the Branch Davidians, outside Waco, Texas. It ended when the compound burned down, leaving 76 adults and children dead inside.
“There is much to learn as to why law enforcement Waco-ed a mentally ill man by blowing up his house when he was inside,” Bate said. “The explosion turned a two-story cape into an A-frame.”
Grendell has been charged with one count each of reckless conduct and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, both Class C crimes, and one count of attempted murder, a Class A crime.
The standoff off began last month when Lee Bell, Grendell’s friend and neighbor, called police after he said Grendell shot at him the night before, according to a police affidavit. Bell said he waited to notify police because he was worried about his friend’s safety.
Because Grendell is still in the hospital, during Monday’s court appearance Bate asked that he not be shown on screen in the Bangor courtroom. Bate could be seen and heard while Grendell was off camera.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray did not ask Grendell to enter pleas to the charges because he had not yet been indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury.
Murray set Grendell’s bail at $20,000 unsecured with the conditions that once he is released from a medical facility, he is transferred to the Penobscot County Jail. He also must wear an ankle bracelet, and cannot use or possess any weapons, drive a car and/or have any contact with Bell, his neighbor in Dixmont.
Grendell is expected to be released from the hospital to a rehabilitation center within the next 10 days, Bate told the judge. Grendell’s next court date is Sept. 10.
Marianne Lynch, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, said she expected additional charges would be filed against Grendell when she presents the case to the grand jury next month.
If convicted, Grendell faces up to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 fine for the count of attempted murder, as well as up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine for each Class C crime.
According to an affidavit filed with the court in June, Grendell has been charged in the past with misdemeanors in southern Aroostook County. The most recent conviction was in 1982, when he was fined $300 for assault.
The affidavit did not include details of the standoff or how Grendell was injured.
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