AUGUSTA — Robert Wayne Lonardo, who is serving life in prison for the 1994 murder of a Waterville woman who interrupted him as he was burglarizing her home, wants a chance to get out of prison before he dies.

Lonardo, 62, formerly of Benton, says his attorney at the time failed to convey to him a deal which would have capped his sentence at 60 years in exchange for pleading guilty to murder.

Instead, Lonardo went to trial and received a life sentence after his conviction.

Prosecutors said he shot Marianne Pembrook, 47, fatally with a stolen pistol when she entered her home during a botched burglary. Lonardo had testified that he was high on drugs and alcohol and that he had no intention of hurting anyone, saying his gun discharged in a moment of panic.

A former Maine State Police detective said the powder residue left on Pembrook’s left side allowed him to estimate that she was shot from no farther away than 4 feet with a .380-caliber Davis Industries semiautomatic pistol. While three bullets were found at the scene, the weapon never was recovered.

In his plea for post conviction review, Lonardo says that if he had known of the plea offer, he would have accepted it and might have had an opportunity to be out of prison at some point.

Lonardo was in a courtroom Monday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta for a hearing in his bid for post-conviction review, but it was postponed after he told Justice Nancy Mills that he had not been given his prescribed medication all weekend at the Kennebec County jail and would have some problems. Lonardo is taking Lyrica, a controlled substance, for his fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes pain, fatigue, sleep, memory and mood problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Lonardo said he had arrived in Augusta from the Maine State Prison Friday afternoon.

Jail policy, published for those who anticipate serving sentences at the Kennebec County jail, says, “You can bring your medications in the original container. You will not be allowed to take narcotics while in custody of the Kennebec County Correctional Facility.”

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason said Monday that inmates are given prescription medication, “but with our medical vendor out of Colorado, there are some drugs they will not dispense within our facility.” He said he was in meetings all day Monday and unable to get more information; however, he added, “I have to rely on the professionalism and knowledge of our vendors. I do know that if there is a drug that a person needs to sustain living, they’ll make sure that they get it, or we can bring them to the hospital.”

In court, Lonardo told the judge he would “do the best I can.”

“I don’t know how reliable I’ll be,” he said.

He said he was unable to sleep, experiencing cold sweats and other symptoms resulting from the sudden discontinuation of his medication.

Mills told him, “It’s crucial you understand everything we do here today.”

Attorney Andrews Campbell, who represents Lonardo in his current appeal, told Mills that he anticipated calling Lonardo to testify. She suggested rescheduling the hearing so it could take place at the Maine State Prison, where Lonardo is serving his sentence and where he regularly receives Lyrica for his fibromyalgia.

She recessed briefly to allow Campbell to speak with his client about the issue.

“Based on what Mr. Lonardo said, I feel we have to do this at the prison,” Campbell said when the judge returned.

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who has asked that Lonardo’s post conviction review claim be dismissed, did not object to the continuance, saying October would be better for him.

John Nale, the attorney who represented Lonardo at his non-jury trial in the July 21, 1994, shooting and strangulation death of Marianne Pembroke, also was in the courtroom Monday, and said he would be available any time for the hearing. A different judge signed an order authorizing Nale to discuss with the state any conversations he had with Lonardo about plea offers as well as relevant documents.

“Hopefully we can schedule this really soon,” Mills said, telling the attorneys she would deal with the rescheduling issues via email.

Mills has been specially assigned to the case.

Macomber maintains that too much time has passed to allow Lonardo to benefit from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Missouri v. Frye. That 2012 ruling upheld Galin Frye’s right to a post-conviction review after he said that his attorney never had communicated the plea bargain offers to him.

“Unfortunately for Lonardo, neither the United States Supreme Court nor the Maine Law Court have held that Missouri v. Frye is retroactive to petitioners like Lonardo, whose judgments of conviction were already final before Frye was decided,” Macomber wrote in asking the judge to dismiss the petition as untimely. “Indeed, the (1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals) has expressly held that Frye is not retroactive to cases like Lonardo’s.”

Lonardo asked that the judge order him brought back to the prison in Warren on Monday; however, the judge said she signed an order remanding him to the prison, but the timing of his return would be up to the transport officials.

A letter from Nale to Lonardo last year indicated that it was unlikely any plea bargain — which he said was 80 years and which Campbell says was actually 60 years — would result in a lower sentence for Lonardo because of Lonardo’s prior murder conviction in Massachusetts. Reports published in 1995 indicate Lonardo served prison time for manslaughter in Massachusetts and robbery in Alabama.

In 1997, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, affirmed Lonardo’s conviction.

In response to the state’s motion to dismiss, Campbell wrote, “There is a reasonable probability that the court would have accepted a plea to 60 years, an offer (Lonardo) only learned of within the past year. The state, rather than move to dismiss, should re-offer the plea at this time.”

Lonardo was found guilty by Justice Donald Alexander following a non-jury trial in 1995 in Lincoln Superior Court in Wiscasset.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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