A Bangor man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison with all but 11 suspended after pleading guilty to manslaughter in connection with the March 2020 shooting death of 23-year-old Cameron Pelkey of East Millinocket.
Jason Mulligan, 46, also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, operating under the influence of intoxicants, theft by unauthorized taking and violation of conditions of release. The only one of those charges related to Pelkey’s death was the gun charge.
The sentence imposed was a joint recommendation from the prosecution and the defense. Mulligan will serve the prison time for the charges unrelated to the shooting at the same time as he serves the manslaughter sentence.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray said the recommended sentence was “fair and reasonable.”
Pelkey died at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor of a single gunshot wound a few days after he was shot on March 15 inside a home at 308B Penobscot Ave. in Millinocket, according to police.
Mulligan initially was charged with aggravated attempted murder in connection with the shooting. He was later indicted for manslaughter by the Penobscot County grand jury.
Mulligan was at the second-floor apartment to execute a drug deal, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea told the judge. He accused the other residents of stealing his drugs and pointed a gun at them.
During an altercation on the steep, narrow staircase outside the apartment, Mulligan was pushed down the stairs, the prosecutor said. As he came back up the steps, Mulligan pointed his gun at Pelkey. Pelkey hit the hand in which Mulligan was holding the gun with a wooden board and it fired, striking Pelkey in the head shortly after 3 p.m.
His roommates placed Pelkey in the bathtub but when police arrived they refused to let them in, the prosecutor said. Mulligan shot up drugs and passed out with the gun in his pocket. Police finally entered the apartment at about 8 p.m.
The gun had no serial number and was not in good condition, Zainea said. For the gun to fire, it had to be cocked but could be fired with little pressure. In tests conducted by a defense ballistics expert, the gun fired when struck by various objects, defense attorney David Bate of Bangor said.
The lawyer previously said that if the case had gone to trial, Mulligan would have claimed he acted in self-defense. He also said that once arrested, Mulligan was cooperative with investigators.
“Mr. Mulligan did not intend to shoot Cameron Pelkey,” Bate said. “The gun went off accidentally.”
Mulligan, dressed in a long-sleeved blue dress shirt and slacks, said that if he had not been using drugs he would not have been in court on Tuesday.
“I just want to say to the family, Cameron was a good kid. He was smart. He was kind. I never meant for any of this to happen. I’m just so sorry,” he said.
Mulligan broke down in tears as he spoke.
Amy Linscott, Pelkey’s mother, showed the judge photos of her only child.
“No amount of time would make this right and Maine doesn’t have the death penalty,” she told Murray.
Pelkey’s organs were donated to save others, Linscott said.
“He was my favorite person and my soulmate,” she said.
She also criticized the Millinocket Police Department’s handling of the incident. Linscott said her son suffered in the approximately five hours after which he was shot but before police entered the apartment.
The Millinocket Police Department has since disbanded, and Millinocket now relies on the East Millinocket Police Department.
In addition to prison time, Mulligan was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $1,375 in restitution for Pelkey’s funeral expenses.
Mulligan faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $50,000 on the manslaughter charge alone. He has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest shortly after the shooting, unable to post $25,000 cash or $50,000 in property. That time in jail will be applied to his sentence.
He has a long criminal history dating back to 1993 that includes convictions for assault, drug possession, theft and violations of bail and protection from abuse orders.