Carlton L. Young said little during the hearing except to answer questions from the judge. His attorney, Amy Fairfield, made a statement of remorse on his behalf.

ALFRED — A Sanford man accused of causing a Wells woman’s fatal heart attack during an attempted burglary three years ago has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will serve 10 years in prison as part of his plea agreement.

Carlton L. Young, 26, was originally charged with felony murder and manslaughter, in addition to multiple counts of burglary and theft.

Officials say 62-year-old Connie Loucks suffered a heart attack after Young and at least one other person tried to break into her home. The homicide charges were unusual in part because Young never had physical contact with Loucks, and legal experts predicted the trial would center on whether her death was a foreseeable consequence of the burglary attempt.

Young entered his plea Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred. In addition to manslaughter, Young also pleaded guilty to 17 charges that included attempted burglary, burglary and theft. His trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Loucks’ family sat in the front row of the courtroom during the hearing. Her husband, Brian Loucks, spoke briefly on their behalf. He stood with one arm wrapped around his daughter, while his wife’s brother rested a hand on the young woman’s shoulder.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy for my family,” Brian Loucks said. “Not a day goes by that we don’t think about how terrorized Connie must have been that day. She was a sweet, loving, kind individual who didn’t deserve this.”

He called Young “a coward and a punk.”

“I hope his soul rots in hell,” Loucks said.

Young said little during the hearing except to answer questions from Justice John O’Neil. When the judge read the legal definition of manslaughter, Young hung his head. His attorney, Amy Fairfield, addressed the court on her client’s behalf, expressing his remorse for what had happened and saying he was too emotional to speak for himself.

Brian Loucks, right, husband of Connie Loucks, told the judge Monday that defendant Carlton L. Young is “a coward and a punk.” With Loucks in York County Superior Court in Alfred are the victim’s daughter, Sarah Loucks, and brother, Rodney Doane, left.

Fairfield noted that she has known Young for many years and that he has struggled with drug use in the past. She said Young has always denied burglarizing the Loucks’ house the day before her death in March 2015, and he struggled Monday morning to make his decision about the plea agreement offered to him.

“He asked me if he did this today, if it would end it, and I told him that it would,” Fairfield said. “He said, ‘It’s been going on for 3½ years, and the family deserves closure.’ That was the tipping point for Carlton today to plead guilty.”

From the bench, O’Neil noted the manslaughter charge is rarely applied in this way. More often, these charges are used in cases where an assault or direct contact took place between the defendant and victim.

Under Maine law, manslaughter and felony murder are both lesser charges than murder, each carrying a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Murder carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years.

“A lot of it has to do with, what was a person consciously thinking when they were involved in a burglary?” the judge said. “Should they have been aware that someone could die as a result of their actions, even though they might have had no intention at all of ever hurting them? The evidence here justifies the concept that when you break into somebody’s house, it is a terrifying experience for the people that are inside. And even if you meant them no harm, there are consequences to your actions, and these are the consequences.”

Young was one of four people arrested in a rash of burglaries in 2015. The others were Brian Cerullo, 28, of Alfred; Cathy Carle, 25, of Sanford; and Marissa Vieira, 26, of Sanford.

Young and at least one other person were accused of breaking into Loucks’ home when she wasn’t there in March 2015, and returning the next day to break in again, court records show. Loucks called police and told them she believed the burglars had returned, saying they were knocking on the doors and windows of her house. She was then on the phone with her daughter when the line went dead. Officers who arrived minutes later found her unresponsive, and it was later determined she died of a heart attack.

Police traced the burglaries to the foursome through a pawn slip in Carle’s name. Cerullo, Carle and Vieira all entered guilty pleas on burglary- and theft-related charges and were sentenced. Court records show all three had agreed to testify at Young’s trial.

Young was the only one of the four charged in Loucks’ death. He previously had backed out of his scheduled plea and sentencing hearing on burglary charges, so prosecutors brought the felony murder charge in June 2016. The trial had been delayed repeatedly. In July 2017, the number of counts against him grew to 20, including the manslaughter charge.

His plea agreement included manslaughter, one felony count of attempted burglary, eight felony counts of burglary and five felony counts of theft. It also included three misdemeanor counts of theft. Two charges – felony murder and misdemeanor criminal trespass – were dismissed.

On the burglary charge tied to the Loucks’ home, Young entered what is known as an Alford plea. That means he continued to deny that charge for the record, but agreed to plead guilty in light of the state’s evidence. The Alford plea carries the same weight as a conviction.

At the time of his arrest in 2015, Young was serving a two-year probation for a felony burglary conviction. A four-year prison sentence in that case had been suspended, court records show. He will now serve that sentence concurrently with the 10 years in his plea agreement.

Before he adjourned the hearing, O’Neil spoke directly to Young.

“The only word of advice I have for you, Mr. Young, is deal with your addiction when you’re up in Warren, because you don’t want to be back here,” the judge said.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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