FARMINGTON — A 23-year-old former Wilton man pleaded guilty to murder Monday in connection with the bludgeoning death of his grandmother just over a year ago.

Dana Craney was sentenced to 35 years in prison after his guilty plea at Farmington District Court that he killed his grandmother, Joanne Goudreau, 67, on Dec. 20, 2014. Police found her body under a pile of plywood and debris behind the mobile home she and Craney shared at 1130 Weld Road in Wilton. Craney was arrested the following day.

Justice Robert Mullen accepted Craney’s plea and sentenced him to 35 years in prison at the request of Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman, representing the state of Maine in the case. Mullen rejected the state’s request that Craney pay $4,500 in restitution for Goudreau’s funeral expenses, saying that Craney’s ability to pay the restitution would be “probable at best” after 35 years in prison.

At his Jan. 30 arraignment Craney had entered a plea of not guilty. His attorney, Woody Hanstein, had said earlier that Craney was considering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In court Monday, Hanstein said that although Craney “has mental issues, they’re not the kind” that would be accepted as a defense at trial. Craney made reference to unspecified abuse he suffered growing up, but no further details came up in court. Neighbors previously told the Morning Sentinel that Goudreau told them she didn’t feel safe around Craney and he was hitting her.

Craney, who went by the name Mikey, was also known by neighbors to carry around knives. Gail Tourtelotte, a neighbor who lived near Craney and his grandmother, described Craney as a “lost soul” and “odd duck” who probably wanted attention.

“Life did not deal Dana a fair set of cards,” Hanstein said Monday. “He got to the age of 22 and had committed no crimes … He tried to lead his life as best he could.”

During his time in custody, Craney underwent two rounds of competence evaluations and a criminal responsibility evaluation, according to Hanstein. The results of the evaluations were not disclosed in court Monday, but both Mullen and Cashman acknowledged that Craney had documented mental health issues.

Hanstein also cited a 14-inch stack of documents that he had acquired over the last year related to Craney’s emotional, mental and behavioral problems dating back to when he was 8 years old.

When addressing the court Monday, Craney himself referred to his current mental state as scattered and said that he didn’t feel he was able to express the scope of “abuse and neglect” that he said he suffered throughout his childhood, which he said led him to kill his grandmother.

“All I wanted was to be seen as a normal and intelligent person,” Craney said as he addressed the court. “I only did this in about 60 seconds of my life. (I thought) this was the only way (the abuse) would ever stop.”

However, Craney told Mullen that he was of sound mind to be entering the guilty plea, and Hanstein reaffirmed the fact.

Craney’s mother, Katherine Lord, addressed the court after Craney entered his guilty plea, expressing remorse for the actions of her son and the loss of her mother, but said she still loved her son and that love would “never die.”

“This is very difficult on the family,” Lord said. “All in one day I lost my mother and I lost my son.”

Craney kept his head bowed while his mother choked back tears as she recalled her son’s troubled childhood. Lord said the relationship between herself and her mother was problematic because they had differing opinions on how to handle Craney’s behavioral problems.

Lord said that she had provided Craney with all of the resources she could to try to help him while he was growing up. Craney and Lord reportedly didn’t get along and Goudreau had always raised him, according to neighbors.

“My mom loved Mr. Craney with all of her heart to the point it cost her her life,” Lord said.

Craney’s guilty plea comes after more than a year in custody, being held without bail since his Dec. 21, 2014, arrest at the Franklin County jail in Farmington, and also spending time at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta for evaluation and observation.

Hanstein said this December that with a March 1 plea deadline looming, Craney was going to have to decide whether to plead guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. Hanstein told the Morning Sentinel last week the decision to change his plea to guilty on Monday was made completely by Craney.

Mullen considered Craney’s decision to enter a guilty plea rather than to take his case to trial as a mitigating factor in his sentencing. A charge of intentional murder has the potential to carry a 25-year to life sentence.

“Dana has done all he can really do to make this as right as he can,” Hanstein said.

Craney, the son of a Lewiston man convicted of murder in 1993, told detectives in a post-Miranda interview that he repeatedly hit Goudreau in the head with a hammer six or seven times while she slept, according to a police affidavit.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum ruled the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, and that the manner of death was a homicide. Monday, Cashman said that the medical examiner’s report found 10 to 12 lacerations on Goudreau’s head.

Cashman also revealed testimony and facts that would be used against Craney had the case gone to trial, as it was set to in June. These included the testimony of Wilton police officers who questioned Craney about his grandmother’s whereabouts when she was reported missing by Lord.

Testimony would also have come from Maine State Police detectives who interviewed Craney after he was arrested and who were told by Craney at first that he had gone out trying to look for her himself. Later, he admitted to the detectives that he struck Goudreau in the head six or seven times with a hammer while she slept.

Evidence that would have been used in court was a hammer found in Craney’s room that had blood residue belonging to Goudreau on it, as well as a coat of Craney’s that was found to have Goudreau’s blood on it.

His mother, Lord, told the court that five months before her mother’s murder, she had decided to re-establish loving relationships with her son and her mother. Lord was set to take her mother shopping on the day of her murder.

“I wish I could’ve done more,” Lord said. “Despite what he has done, I still love him.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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