A Winter Harbor woman has been sentenced for helping two men accused of killing a fisherman’s dog avoid police after they became suspects in the August 2018 killing.
Maria L. Lockhart, 26, pleaded guilty Monday morning in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth to a felony charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution for helping Nathan Burke and Justin Chipman following the killing of Franky, a pug owned by Winter Harbor lobsterman Phil Torrey.
Lockhart drove Nathan Burke and Justin Chipman to Bangor and helped them rent a hotel room in the days after Franky went missing on Aug. 24, Norman “Toff” Toffolon, deputy district attorney for Hancock County, told Justice Robert Murray on Monday. The dog’s body was found about a week later on a Winter Harbor beach with a bullet hole in his throat.
Burke and Chipman turned themselves in at the Hancock County Jail in early September 2018. The duo, who each had worked as sternmen on Torrey’s boat, told police they had taken the dog on a joyride in Torrey’s Hummer while Torrey was out of state and that the dog had run off and not returned.
On Monday, Lockhart received a deferred disposition to the plea, meaning that if she stays out of trouble for a year she can withdraw her guilty plea and instead be charged with a misdemeanor crime of obstructing government administration and be fined $250. If she does not stay out of trouble, she could face as many as five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the felony hindering charge.
Lockhart appeared in court Monday morning with Chipman, her boyfriend, to plead guilty as part of an agreement with the Hancock County District Attorney’s office. Chipman, who was convicted in November of aggravated cruelty to animals for his role in Franky’s death, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.
Burke also appeared Monday in an Ellsworth courtroom, where Judge Michael Roberts ordered him held without bail. Burke, who had missed court dates in August and October, was arrested over the weekend after police responded to a domestic violence call in Gouldsboro.
Burke spent 70 days in the Hancock County Jail last year after being arrested on charges that he assaulted his girlfriend in Ellsworth last February. Last August, police again charged Burke with violating his bail after they responded to a complaint of a possible domestic altercation at Lamoine State Park and found him in possession of beer and a loaded firearm.