The state’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that Daniel L. Fortune will remain behind bars for life for his role in a Pittston home invasion that left a father and his 10-year-old daughter maimed.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the convictions and two concurrent life sentences imposed on Fortune, now 24, following a seven-day jury trial in Skowhegan.

William Guerrette, the wounded father, said he learned of the supreme court’s ruling late Tuesday.

“I’m heartened to see that the Supreme Judicial Court saw the reality of the horror that was inflicted on my daughter and me and agreed with the judge,” Guerrette said. “Thank the lord.”

In a unanimous opinion written by Associate Justice Donald Alexander, the high court found that “the most significant elements of this crime, a planned and intended murder of as many as five individuals, extreme cruelty and brutality in the crimes committed, and permanent damage and disfigurement of two of the victims, leave no doubt that the sentencing factors addressed … support the life sentences imposed here.”

Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle, whose office prosecuted Fortune, said he was gratified but not surprised by the court’s opinion.

“The court resoundingly affirmed that crimes of the utmost barbarity can be punished by the maximum sanction allowed by our law,” Fowle said. “We’re very grateful for that.”

Fortune was convicted by a jury in Somerset County Superior Court on May 14, 2010, of 14 crimes connected with the pre-dawn invasion of the home of William and Melanie Guerrette. He had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to a charge of theft — for stealing a safe containing $180,000 in cash and other valuables from the same house on Nov. 19, 2007, as well as failure to appear for a trial on that charge and violation of condition of release.

Fortune was convicted of two counts each of aggravated attempted murder involving premeditation and two involving extreme cruelty and two counts of elevated aggravated assault. The victims of those crimes were William Guerrette, a businessman and former legislator, and his daughter, Nicole.

Fortune, who had been a star athlete at Gardiner Area High School, had been a friend of the Guerrette family and occasionally spent the night at their home.

The elder Guerrette suffered machete wounds to his head, arm and hand. He spent a month in a coma, and still bears the scars on his arm. He also lost a finger in the attack. Nicole Guerrette suffered severe head wounds and brain damage as a result.

Guerrette said he was also grateful to the Legislature for adopting a law allowing a life sentence for attempted murder.

“A criminal shouldn’t be rewarded because the victim of the attempted murder is blessed enough to survive,” Guerrette said.

At the trial, Fortune also was convicted of one count of attempted murder of the three other Guerrette family members at home, and of one count each of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary and a violation of condition of release.

In his appeal of the convictions and sentences, Fortune, who was represented by attorney Arnold Clark, argued that the evidence was insufficient for the jury to convict on all the aggravated attempted murder and attempted murder charges, and that the concurrent life sentences imposed were disproportionate to the crimes.

Clark did not respond to requests for comment left on Tuesday.

Oral arguments in the appeal were heard Oct. 16 in a special session of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court at Lisbon High School.

Fortune’s co-defendant, his foster brother and roommate Leo R. Hylton, who was 18 when he wielded a machete in the attack, pleaded guilty to charges related to the home invasion. He was sentenced to 90 years in jail, with all but 50 years suspended, and 15 years probation.

Now that the judgment is final, any further appeal would have to go through a post-conviction review process, where Fortune could challenge the work by his attorneys or through federal courts if Fortune claims a constitutional violation, attorneys say.

“We don’t see any ground for granting relief under a post-conviction review,” Fowle said, adding that the Pittston home invasion case was among the most serious cases he and Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley have handled as prosecutors.

In Kennebec County, where the home invasion occurred, homicides are prosecuted by the Maine Office of the Attorney General.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]



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