AUGUSTA — A Rhode Island man will spend at least 20 years in prison for breaking into an 84-year-old woman’s Sidney home, then attacking and injuring her son with a hammer when he arrived to help her.

Dreaquan L. Foster, 23, of Providence, pleaded guilty Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center to charges related to the home invasion, even as he continued to claim that he had no memory of the break-in or attack but still apologized for it.

Foster admitted to charges of elevated aggravated assault, aggravated criminal mischief, burglary, theft by unauthorized use of property and three charges of criminal mischief, all of which occurred March 12, 2017, at the home of Audrey Hewett. The remainder of his 25-year prison term was suspended while he serves four years on probation.

Those pleas were accepted by Judge Eric Walker, who told Foster that the charge of elevated aggravated assault carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, and then conducted a full sentencing hearing.

“Some of the scariest part of this case is the randomness of this,” Walker said, adding it could have happened anywhere in Maine. “That you have Mr. Foster, basically a ticking time bomb, driving up to Maine and wherever he stops and runs out of gas, that’s where he ends up. That’s where some victims unfortunately are going to be encountered.”

Eric Hewett, who lives near his mother’s house and raced to his mother’s rescue during the break-in, spent 12 days in the hospital recovering from a concussion and skull fracture. After he was hit on the head with a claw hammer, he wrestled with Foster and shot him in the chest.

Eric Hewett read aloud a victim statement, saying the scars of the attack still haunt him physically and mentally.

“To this day I am disfigured with scarring and the visible 8-inch indent in my head where my skull was fractured. My left eye has not completely recovered. I continue to struggle with PTSD,” Eric Hewett said. “Myself and my family will always bear scars from that day.”

Assistant District Attorney Alisa Ross requested a 26-year prison term for Foster “based on the victim impact, the defendant’s criminal history, and the significant state interest in protecting the public from the defendant,” according to the state’s sentencing memo.

The defense attorney, Andrew Wright, had suggested a sentence that calls for seven years to be served immediately, with the remainder of the 18-year term to be suspended while Foster spends four years on probation. Foster previously pleaded not guilty. On Thursday, his attorney said Foster remembers nothing at all of the events.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Wright said, “It’s a terrible tragedy and the loss of a young man’s life.”

Ross outlined the facts of the case, and when Walker asked Foster if he disagreed with them, his attorney responded.

“We’re somewhat at a loss,” Wright said. “Mr. Foster maintains he has no memory as to what happened that day.”

In court, Foster apologized to the victims and the victims’ family.

“Words can’t really describe the guilt I feel right now,” he said, speaking in a low voice. He added that he was taking responsibility for his actions and asked the judge for mercy.

‘HER SAVIOR’

Wright said Foster’s last memory is of drinking in Rhode Island with friends and doing drugs at 5 a.m. Then Foster woke up the next day in a hospital in Maine with a gunshot wound in his chest, Wright said.

Ross’s memo says Foster stole a car in Rhode Island, drove to Maine, and then abandoned the vehicle on Interstate 95 when it ran out of gas. He walked down Lyons Road, breaking into a business and another home before reaching Audrey Hewett’s house.

The memo also lays out Foster’s prior convictions: three felony counts of breaking and entering a dwelling and receiving stolen goods Nov. 23, 2015, in Rhode Island, and that there is a warrant for his arrest. Ross also wrote that Foster “was arrested and charged with assault to rob/unarmed, threat to commit crime, assault and battery and conspiracy” in 2015 in Massachusetts and had an outstanding warrant.

In arguing for a 26-year term for Foster, Ross used a PowerPoint presentation to graphically show the judge what happened.

She started with using a brief video showing an individual stealing a car in Rhode Island and driving off. Then Ross showed an aerial view of the area where the stolen Audi was abandoned along Interstate 95 and the proximity to the Hewetts’ homes, as well as the location of Hilltop Log Homes and another property — where police traced Foster’s footprints — which were also broken into.

Ross showed other photos of the fresh injuries to Eric Hewett’s head and face, two separate blood smears on the floor of Audrey Hewett’s bathroom floor where the two men struggled over Hewett’s handgun, and damage to Audrey Hewett’s picture window and bedroom door, the latter showing the imprint of a foot.

Ross played a video clip of a Kennebec Journal interview with Audrey and Eric Hewett, who described the harrowing events of that day less than a week afterward.

The prosecutor also played an audio recording of the 911 call in which Eric Hewett’s wife, Patty, reported the break-in to authorities as she learned about it in real time from Audrey Hewett, who had called her on a different phone and was stuck in her bedroom.

As the 911 call played in the court room, both Eric and Audrey Hewett grabbed tissues to blow their noses. They were sitting next to Patty and the couple’s four children, who also had come to the sentencing.

Audrey Hewett has said that Foster entered her home around 7 p.m. on March 12, 2017, after first knocking on her front door and asking to use the telephone. When Audrey Hewett told him to look elsewhere, she has said, Foster got angry, banged on her front door and finally climbed a snowbank and broke through the bay window on the front of her home. She immediately called her son and retreated into her bedroom, continuing to speak on the phone with Patty Hewett, who called 911 at 7:11 p.m. on different phone.

“Thankfully Ms. Hewett had her savior living next door in her son, only a tenth of a mile away,” said Walker, the judge, before handing down the sentence. “And luckily for her and for her son, he had a gun and he was able to use it. And was able to get over to his mother’s house quickly before Mr. Foster was able to kick in (Hewett’s) mother’s door.”

While fending off Foster’s hammer attack, Eric Hewett suffered multiple head injuries, including a skull fracture, two broken eye orbits, a broken cheekbone and dangerous levels of bleeding around his brain. He missed three months of work and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Since the invasion, he’s reinforced his family’s doors, added security alarms to their homes and purchased more firearms.

“It’s a heightened awareness,” Hewett said in December, when asked about his PTSD. “I was actually jumpy for quite a while. That has calmed down quite a bit. I’m more aware of people that are around now, who’s coming and who’s going.”

THE PUNISHMENT

Two members of Foster’s family were also in the courtroom on Thursday. During a break, they declined to speak with a reporter. One of them, a middle-aged man, sniffled loudly a couple times in the hearing and left the court room when Foster made his remarks.

Ross, the prosecutor, also sought more than $7,000 in restitution for five different victims, including the Hewetts, which Walker granted. A condition of probation prohibits Foster from being in Sidney, Maine.

Eric Hewett has told police that as he moved from the kitchen into the living room calling out for the intruder to leave, a man “leapt from the adjoining bathroom and began to strike him repeatedly on the head” with a hammer.

Audrey Hewett joined him at the podium in court as he read the last paragraph of a prepared statement.

“I feel his punishment should be suiting of his crimes and the potential danger that he poses to society,” Eric Hewett said.

After the sentencing, Eric and Audrey Hewett said in an interview that they agreed with its length, given how much harm Foster has brought their family.

While Hewett acknowledged that Foster will be locked up for such a great portion of his life, he also said that the Rhode Island man would still have time to change his life after he’s served his time, assuming his apology on Thursday was sincere.

“I think it’s sad that we’re sending a 23-year-old man to prison for a such a large part of his life,” Eric Hewett said. “But I think society needs to make a statement when horrific crimes are committed.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams

 

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

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Twitter: @ceichacker