FARMINGTON — The three men who robbed and kidnapped a couple in their Farmington home last Halloween were sentenced Thursday to a combined 50 years in prison.
Prosecutors sought sentences that would include 20 years of prison time for each offender. The defense team, meanwhile, asked for sentences ranging from six to 10 years of prison time for Kevin S. Crandall, 27, of Wilton; Marcus A. Thompson, 26, of Farmington; and Michael E. Kidd Jr., 20, of Chesterville.
In Franklin County Superior Court Thursday afternoon, Justice Michaela Murphy heard three hours of testimony from lawyers, the defendants and the victims before sentencing Crandall to 20 years and Kidd and Thompson to 15 apiece.
On Halloween night, Crandall, Kidd and Thompson forced their way into a Seamons Road home owned by Dennis Collins, 65, a Vietnam veteran and Karen, 63, a substitute teacher.
Collins, who took the stand with the help of a cane, described how he attempted to close the door when he saw a man standing on his porch with a gun, but was knocked to the ground. His arm was injured and bleeding after the three barged through the door wearing ski masks, gloves and long sleeves that obscured their identities.
One of the intruders held a gun on Collins while the other two ransacked the home, stealing prescription pills, two guns owned by Collins and $1,500 belonging to the American Legion.
Then Crandall, who the Collinses both described as the leader, held Karen Collins hostage while Kidd and Thompson forced Dennis Collins to drive to an ATM and withdraw $700.
Both Collins’ cried as they described the fear that they felt when they were separated and the continuing impact of the crime on their lives.
When they took her husband out of the home at gunpoint, “I didn’t think I’d ever see him alive again,” said Karen Collins.
Left alone with Crandall, she said that she attempted to engage him in conversation and give him whatever he wanted.
“I wanted him to like me so that he wouldn’t hurt me,” she said, her voice breaking.
Dennis Collins said that he didn’t know what to think when he was ordered to drive home and found Crandall standing in the driveway alone.
“I didn’t know if he had shot my wife,” he said.
Collins, who said that he was wounded three times while serving in Vietnam, testified that the incident reversed years of progress he had made in coping with post-traumatic stress.
“My ability to protect my home seemed gone,” he said.
Thursday, nearly a year after the incident, the couple said they have to keep constant vigil to feel safe, meaning that they don’t sleep at the same time. Karen Collins generally stays awake all night, while her husband stays awake during the day.
She also testified that she no longer works as a substitute teacher, as she is prone to break down in tears at any time.
When handing down the sentence, Murphy reiterated an argument put forth by the prosecutor: that the crime had caused harm to the community at large.
“This is not supposed to happen in Maine,” she said. “It’s certainly not supposed to happen to this area of Maine.”
She described the victim impact, an important component in determining the severity of the sentence, as “extremely severe.”
Each of the defendants addressed the court, taking responsibility for their crimes and apologizing, citing drug addiction as a factor in their behavior.
Crandall, the ringleader, was stoic as he spoke to the victims directly.
“There’s nothing I can say,” he said. “I ruined your lives. I’ve also ruined my family’s lives. My 7-year-old daughter won’t have a father now. I’m sorry.”
Kidd and Thompson each read from typed statements they had prepared, their ability to turn pages impeded by the handcuffs on their wrists.
The defense team said that Thompson began life as a crack baby and had a documented case of mental illness. He was adopted at the age of 7, and a statement from his parents was read aloud in which they described him as a church-going, good person who got mixed up with the wrong group of people.
The defense team also introduced favorable character testimony from counselors, correction officers and educators who have worked with Thompson in prison over the past year.
A clearly distraught Kidd offered the most emotional defense testimony as he asked the court to allow him to reunite with his family.
“If I serve eight years, I can still be a father to my son,” he said. “I cannot do that if I serve 20.”
Kidd said that he came from a supportive and loving family and joined the military immediately after graduating high school. He said that he became hooked on prescription drugs during the spring and summer of 2011 in a downward spiral that culminated in the robbery and kidnapping.
“This incarceration is what I needed to get my life back on track,” he said.
Lawyers for the defense argued for a more lenient sentence based on mitigating circumstances and relatively short sentences that had been given to people who committed similar crimes.
Even in cases where home invaders brutally beaten victims, criminals have been given sentences of as short as four years, they said.
“I cannot find a way in my own mind why my clients would get 15 or 20 years based on other cases,” defense attorney Christopher Dilworth said.
Murphy rejected those cases as precedents, arguing that their relatively light sentences were an indicator of a flawed justice system rather than a desirable outcome.
Those cases involved plea bargains that she said were driven by a lack of resources on the part of prosecutors trying to avoid the uncertainties of court trials.
She also there was no evidence Crandall and Kidd were under the influence of drugs when they committed the crimes, so drug addiction was not a mitigating circumstance for the two.
Thompson’s drug abuse, she said, “is to some extent not of his own making, considering the way he came into the world.”
Kidd and Thompson were given lighter sentences than Crandall because he had fewer mitigating circumstances and was less likely to be successfully rehabilitated, Murphy said.
“He was the one who was the ringleader and was making all the threats,” she said.
In addition to their prison terms, each defendant also got an 8-year suspended sentence and four years of probation for other criminal charges associated with the crime spree.
They also must make restitution of $6,390 and once they’re released they may not own firearms, must abstain from alcohol and drugs, avoid the victims and avoid each other.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287