AUGUSTA — Paul W. Bonin wanted to take up bow hunting, but his probation conditions prohibited him from having dangerous weapons.

Convicted in 1994 of attempted murder, kidnapping and gross sexual assault, Bonin has been out of prison for six years — and staying out of trouble, according to his probation officer. So Bonin, 37, of Chelsea, petitioned the court to change his probation conditions.

On Monday he won a chance to go bow hunting as long as he abides by some rules: Find a supervisor approved by the probation officer and have that supervisor bring a bow to Bonin and take it away when the hunt is over.

Justice Michaela Murphy set the conditions during a hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court over the objection of Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley.

Kelley asked the judge to maintain the ban on possessing dangerous weapons. “This case is one of the most chilling cases I’ve dealt with in past 33 years,” Kelley told Murphy. “The state doesn’t believe that (condition) should be lifted.”

He outlined the events of the August 1994 night in which a young couple were abducted by Bonin, then 18 years old, from a Christian fair at the Litchfield Fairgrounds.

“Mr. Bonin stalked an 18-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, carrying a handgun, and took them into woods at gunpoint,” Kelley said. “He shot the boy three times, hit her with the gun, cut her with a knife and raped her.”

The boy crawled out of the woods to get help, and a manhunt ensued for the shooter and his captive.

After being held for six hours, the girl, a student newly arrived from Switzerland, heard rescuers approaching and fled her captor, who subsequently was arrested.

Bonin pleaded guilty to attempted murder and gross sexual assault, as well as two counts each of kidnapping and aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with all but 20 years suspended, and 18 years of probation.

With good time, he was released after more than 12 years behind bars.

“By all appearances, he seems to be a hard worker,” said Mark Fortin, a probation and parole officer with the Maine Department of Corrections. “I really can’t report anything negative.”

Fortin said Bonin’s risk for reoffending appears low.

“This sounds like this is something that could have a rehabilitative effect,” Murphy told Bonin, referring to bow hunting.

Bonin represented himself at the hearing. “I take full responsibility for what I did,” he said.

Aside from Kelley, representing the state, no one else at the hearing objected to Bonin’s bow hunting request.

Attempts on Tuesday to reach Donna Strickler, director of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center, which provides services to those in Kennebec and Somerset counties, were unsuccessful.

Bonin said he realized he had two choices after his arrest: work on becoming a better person or remain an angry young man.

“I chose to turn myself around,” he told the judge.

He summed up his position in a petition asking to be allowed to use a bow while hunting: “I have worked hard to regain the trust of my family, friends, and the community. I have so many good things going on in my life there is no way I’m going to risk losing it by doing something stupid. I’m still trying to get my life back. For me, being able to hunt is one of the steps in that process.”

The judge noted Bonin has 12 years of probation remaining.

“I hope you continue to stay on right side of the law and take care of your obligations,” she said.


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