An Old Orchard Beach man convicted of murdering his roommate asked Maine’s top court Thursday to overturn his 40-year sentence.

Dustan Bentley pleaded guilty to murdering his roommate William Popplewell in 2020 and was sentenced to 40 years as part of a plea deal. An autopsy revealed Popplewell was beaten, stabbed and strangled, then wrapped in trash bags.

Bentley’s attorney Joseph Mekonis argued to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that Bentley should have received a lesser sentence, but did not because the judge used the wrong cases as a point for comparison, according to the Portland Press Herald.

In exchange for Bentley’s plea, the attorney general’s office agreed it would recommend a sentence that was not longer than 40 years.

Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas sentenced Bentley to 40 years in prison for what he described as a “savage, sustained and cruel” killing.

Bentley is not appealing his conviction to the high court as he waived his right to appeal when he entered his guilty plea, but he does have the right to petition the court to overturn his sentence, the Press Herald reported.

In response to Mekonis’ argument, Justice Ellen Gorman questioned how he and his client could have found the trial court erred.

“You did a remarkable job for your client by getting the state to agree to a sentence of no greater than 40 years for the savage, extended killing of a vulnerable, elderly man,” Gorman said, according to the Press Herald. “And yet, you are here arguing that the 40-year sentence imposed by the trial court was in error. How can that be possible?”

There is no time frame for the court to issue a decision.

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...