SKOWHEGAN — Robert L. Nelson, of Norridgewock, was sentenced Tuesday to 45 years in prison for the murder of Everett L. Cameron, of Anson, who was shot to death during a drug transaction in 2009.
Nelson, 42, had faced between 25 years to life in prison, but Justice John Nivison said the circumstances of the crime did not warrant the maximum punishment.
Cameron was 60 when he was found with a close-range gunshot wound to the head in his pickup truck on Oct. 31, 2009, in Anson.
Nelson was convicted of the murder on Dec. 18 and showed no remorse for the crime in Somerset County Superior Court on Tuesday.
He still maintained that he did not do it, he and his lawyer said.
“I want to extend my sympathy to the family for their loss but under God and under oath, I did not kill Everett Cameron and I will fight until my name is cleared,” said Nelson.
Cameron’s son, Everett J. Cameron Sr., of Anson, said he respected the court’s decision but wanted to see Nelson get a longer sentence.
“I’m glad Robert Nelson is going away for a long time. It’s what he deserves,” he said Tuesday afternoon from the steps of the courthouse. “It bothers me a lot though that he seems to have no remorse. He is a very cold-hearted man.”
During the sentencing, Cameron and other members of his family told the judge about the loss and desperation they have experienced since the murder and asked Nivison for a long sentence.
Virginia Hayden, Everett L. Cameron’s fiancée, prepared a statement that was read by a victim’s advocate as Hayden wiped away tears and was supported by her daughter.
Hayden had been in a relationship with Cameron for 10 years when he died and the couple had lived together most of that time.
“He was a member of my family and was loved by everyone,” she wrote. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer and in a lot of pain, Hayden said, Everett would attend church with her and continued to do the things he loved — eating in restaurants, building ice fishing traps and spending time with his grandchildren.
“He never stopped doing things for other people,” said Hayden.
She described finding Cameron with a gunshot wound to the head on the day he died in his 1990 Chevrolet pickup truck, parked just miles down the road from their home on Town Farm Road.
Her life has been filled with sadness and confusion, she has trouble sleeping and she has come into financial troubles and had to file for bankruptcy in the aftermath, she said Tuesday.
Two of Cameron’s three children also spoke of their loss before the judge on Tuesday.
“He was so important to my life and my family. He really was the glue that held us together,” said Cameron Sr. He had brought with him a picture of him and his father taken the day he shot his first deer.
“It was the first time he told me he was proud of me. I was learning how to be a dad from him, and now my son doesn’t have his grandfather,” he said. “I’ll never forget him.”
Nicole Sacre, of Pittston, Cameron’s daughter, said she would have asked the judge for the death penalty if it were legal in the state.
“There is a horrible image I have not been able to get out of my head since the news of my father’s death. It was untimely, unjustified and devastating, and it is all due to one person — Robert Nelson,” she said.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, one of two prosecutors on the case, said Nelson had formed an intent to murder Cameron when he met with him about a debt he owed for an oxycodone pill. His motive was to gain financially by taking pills from Cameron, she said.
“No sentence can replace a family’s loved one or return them to where they were that day. No sentence can return Everett to their lives,” said Zainea.
Still, lawyers from both sides agreed that Nelson should not receive life in prison. Although all murder is a serious crime, cases that receive the maximum sentence usually involve examples such as prolonged suffering or sexual assault, said Nivison.
Defense attorney Phil Mohlar said that Nelson’s work history and family support also warranted a shorter sentence.
Before the murder Nelson was able to hold jobs in construction and wood splitting, had built his house and was able to contribute to the support of his family and society, he said.
Nivison said that the case was an example of “the most tragic outcome of illicit drug use” and that he believed Nelson to have been high on drugs at the time of the murder and desperate for more pills.
He was sentenced to 45 years in jail and $7,093.75 in restitution to cover funeral expenses.
At the time, Nelson was also a convicted felon prohibited from possessing a firearm after burglarizing a motor vehicle in 1994. He received five years in jail for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and will serve that sentence at the same time.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368