The Dixmont man whose house was destroyed by a police bomb and who was shot by members of the Maine State Police during a June standoff left the Penobscot Judicial Center on Friday ready to rebuild his life.
Michael Grendell, 62, was sentenced Friday to three years in prison with all but time served suspended and four years of probation.
Grendell, who appeared in court dressed in a short-sleeved blue shirt and blue jeans, limped into a second-floor courtroom with the use of a cane.
He had a small bandage on the right side of his face from where a bullet had exited his cheek. In addition to being shot in the face, Grendell was hit in the torso by police bullets.
Grendell continues to use a feeding tube and have trouble hearing but is able to attend to his daily medical needs, according to testimony.
He was expected to stay with a friend for a few days before moving to an apartment to live independently, his attorney David Bate of Bangor told reporters outside the courthouse. Grendell’s probation officer will have to approve where he lives.
Grendell answered a series of questions from Superior Court Justice Ann Murray in a clear voice.
“I don’t ever want to go back to that state where I was when all this happened,” Grendell told the judge. He said he wants to continue mental health treatment at Acadia Hospital in Bangor.
“I’m grateful that nobody else got hurt, and I’m thankful to be alive,” Grendell told the judge.
He also told Murray he was discharged Friday morning from Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta after being held there for 38 days.
Grendell pleaded no contest to one count each of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, both Class C crimes. In exchange for his pleas, Penobscot County Deputy District Attorney Marianne Lynch will dismiss one count of attempted murder, a Class A crime.
No contest pleas result in convictions.
Under Maine law, if Murray had rejected the plea agreement, Grendell would have been free to withdraw his no contest pleas and go to trial.
Before accepting the plea agreement and sentencing, Murray found Grendell competent to stand trial. He has been diagnosed with a depressive disorder with psychotic features, according to testimony.
At the time of the incident, he was experiencing a wide range of psychotic symptoms and delusional thoughts, but that condition is being controlled with medication, Robert Riley, a forensic psychologist, who examined Grendell on Tuesday, testified by telephone. Riley recommended Grendell continue to take psychiatric medications, participate in counseling and abstain from alcohol.
Grendell is recovering nicely, physically and mentally, his attorney said.
“He seems to have bounced back from here very well and wants to learn to maintain treatment to know how to recognize those early signs so nothing like this goes wrong again,” Bate told the judge. “In the end, Mr. Grendell is the victim here. He’s been through hell. He was in hell before this happened. He thought he was under attack by aliens and zombies. He’s grateful right now. He has people who support and want to help him.”
More than half a dozen supporters, including Lee Bell, the neighbor he threatened, attended the sentencing in support of Grendell.
Grendell was in the midst of a mental health crisis on June 28, when police arrived at his home, Bate said. Police went to talk with Grendell after a neighbor reported that Grendell shot at him the night before. Bell told police he waited to notify them of the incident because he was worried about Grendell’s safety.
Col. John Cote, chief of the state police, said that officers shot Grendell after a 20-hour standoff when they drew him out of the house by detonating an explosive and Grendell continued walking toward them with a firearm.
Outside the courthouse, Lynch called the plea agreement: “An appropriate resolution because it recognized the significant mental health issue that was in play here.” She also said the case highlighted the “extraordinarily dangerous situation both for police and the victim who were in involved in this case.”
Bate praised Murray’s decision to accept the plea agreement and send Grendell to probation rather than jail time.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who is not satisfied with today’s outcome,” he told reporters outside the courthouse. “Everybody’s a winner. What you saw inside was real criminal justice in action. The parties get together, they see the case clearly and they come up with a solution that’s not only good for society but that’s good for the defendant, too.”
A Go Fund Me campaign, set up by Grendell’s godson, Jake Irish, seeks to raise $2,000 to help Grendell get back on his feet. As of mid-afternoon Friday, the fund had raised $810.
It fell to the town of Dixmont and neighbors to clean up the debris from Grendell’s destroyed home as his homeowner’s insurance refused to pay the claim, his attorney said. First Selectman David Bright said state police refused to pay the $2,000 cost, so the town would ask the Legislature to reimburse it.
Bate, whose practice is focused on criminal law, told reporters outside the courthouse that he did not know if Grendell planned to sue the Maine State Police or his insurance company over the loss of his house.
Grendell faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the charges. If he had been convicted of attempted murder, he would have faced up to 30 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
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