AUGUSTA — A Winslow man will spend a year behind bars for reckless conduct in which he pointed a gun at two of his children and his ex-wife’s boyfriend in May 2014 during a confrontation outside his former wife’s home.

Wilfred J. Morissette, 50, pleaded guilty last week to three counts of reckless conduct, and the sentencing hearing was held Friday at the Capital Judicial Center.

He was sentenced to five years in prison, but four years were suspended and Morissette was ordered to serve two years of probation.

Morissette has been free on $5,000 cash bail with the condition that he be monitored electronically.

The victims were all in the courtroom, as well as his ex-wife, former Rep. Susan Morissette, who represented District 54, which consists of Winslow and part of Benton, in 2011 and 2012. She is also a former vice chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party. She did not speak to the judge at the hearing.

Justice Michaela Murphy imposed the sentence that was recommended by both the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Tracy DeVol, and Morissette’s attorney, Sherry Tash. However, Murphy also said she wanted to add a probation condition that required Morissette to be electronically monitored for the first six months of probation, if that is available, or prohibit him from living in Winslow.

The offenses occurred May 11, 2014, in Winslow.

She said Morissette’s release from prison will cause the victims to become anxious and fearful.

“I am very concerned about what happens when he gets out,” Murphy said. “I think the psychological damage is very deep, and I think they’re very fragile.”

After discussions in chambers with the attorneys, the judge ordered that when Morissette gets out, he cannot reside in Winslow as long as any of his minor children reside there.

According to the Winslow police report of the incident, Susan Morissette and three of her children as well as her boyfriend, Barry Sturk, drove into her First Street driveway on Mother’s Day when Wilfred Morissette, who lived across the street, threatened them with a loaded handgun.

Sturk called police, who arrested Morissette and seized the firearm from him. No one was hurt.

Two of the children and Sturk spoke to the judge during the hearing.

Noah Morissette said his father became more physically abusive as time went on and that he and a brother fought with Morissette when Morissette was drunk and made Noah’s sister, Jacqueline, cry. Noah asked that he be added to the people Morissette is prohibited from contacting. The judge agreed, and was told there is also a protection order in place banning contact.

Jacqueline Morissette told the judge she has nightmares about her father and his aggressive behavior.

“When I leave my house, I’m very afraid I might see Wilfred,” she said, adding that she is concerned he might hurt her physically and emotionally. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over the things he’s done to me.”

Sturk addressed the judge as well on behalf of another of Morissette’s sons, Joshua, who was named with Jacqueline as a victim in the indictment.

“Back in May of last year, it was a very profound and eye-opening experience,” Sturk said. “I think a lot of innocence was lost that day by some kids.” Sturk said Joshua is now focusing on learning how to defend himself.

“I’m pretty much a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I drink,” Morissette told the judge, stopping frequently because he was crying at the microphone. “I’ve known since before I entered treatment in ’91 I was an alcoholic.”

He said he has stayed sober for a year or more at times before resuming binge drinking.

“I previously had been rationing my drinking and minimizing the effect my drinking has had on my family,” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much damage he had done until he read victim statements in the case several months ago.

“I regret it and I apologize sincerely,” he said, adding that he plans changes to lessen his chances of relapsing.

“I love my children to the ends of the Earth,” he said. “They are the only thing that are really important to me in this life. I hope someday… that they find peace and are able to forgive me and let go of these feelings that are tormenting them.”

He said he will never forgive himself.

His attorney told the judge that there are hundreds of “loving, caring, affectionate communications” contained in text messages between Wilfred Morissette and his children as well as friendly exchanges between Morissette and his ex-wife, in contrast to the image of Morissette they gave on Friday.

Defense attorney Sherry Tash described her client as “a mean drunk” who knows he is a poor father and husband when he’s drinking.

Other conditions of probation ban Morissette from contact with the victims and from possession and use of alcohol, illegal drugs and weapons and requires him to undergo substance abuse and psychological counseling.

Another son lives with Wilfred Morissette now in a home about a mile from where the rest of the family resides.

Murphy said she accepted the sentencing recommendation because Morissette accepted responsibility and because he has no criminal record.

But she said the outcome could have been worse.

“Clearly the victim impact could have been catastrophic and life-ending,” Murphy said. “This is close to one of those cases.”

She said people need to understand what happens with the mix of alcohol, guns and domestic strife.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 


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