The 22-year-old Freeport man police accused of going on a weekend rampage that spanned two towns and left an 82-year-old Scarborough man dead had his first major run-in with the law three years ago.

Quinton Hanna Photo courtesy Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

It was Nov. 19, 2016, a Saturday night, and Quinton Hanna and a friend were roaming the fourth-floor of a dormitory at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, looking for a place to party.

“Coming down the hall were two rowdy men,” said Sierra Eichner, 22, who was a freshman living at Upton Hastings Hall that year. “No one knew who they were, no one had seen them.”

Within hours, Hanna was arrested by campus police and charged with unlawful sexual touching, trespassing and disorderly conduct, according court records. Eichner said it was among the scariest nights of her life.

Hanna pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and in 2017 a judge agreed to an expedited mental examination to determine whether he was competent to face the charges in the case. The case lasted until early this year, and was Hanna’s most serious encounter with the criminal justice system until he was charged with murder and other felonies this week.

Hanna is slated to make a first appearance on the murder charge in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Thursday. Police say Hanna stabbed James “Jim” Pearson to death in the front yard of the victim’s Scarborough home on Sunday.

Hanna then drove to West Bath, where police say he committed a sexual assault, an attempted murder, a robbery and a motor vehicle theft at three locations in the midcoast town. Police are investigating a fifth incident, reported Saturday evening, near Hanna’s home in Freeport in which a person suffered a non-fatal stab wound, but no charges had been filed in that case as of Wednesday.

When Eichner saw Hanna’s name on the news this week, she said it looked familiar. When she saw his picture, the memory of that night in Upton Hastings Hall came into focus.

Quinton Hanna is accused of killing Jim Pearson of Scarborough, seen on his tractor at his Beech Ridge Farm in November 1999. Staff file photo

Eichner said the frightening encounter began when she returned to campus from her job at the Maine Mall. Eichner was recovering from a cold at the time, but kept her door open that evening and she and some friends were hanging out when Hanna and the other man walked in, Eichner said. They were strangers to Eichner and her friends, and the mood quickly changed.

“We immediately got very weird vibes, uneasy vibes about them,” Eichner said. “I said, ‘I think I’m just going to go to bed.'”

But Hanna and his friend wouldn’t leave, Eichner said. Hanna seemed like he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and his companion had a plastic Gatorade bottle filled with a dark alcoholic liquid. Then Hanna sat on Eichner’s left, while his friend sat to Eichner’s right. She was wedged between them.

“My friends were trying to get them out of the room, but they weren’t coming right out and saying it. I could tell my friends were super nervous. I was super nervous,” Eichner said.

Her friends reluctantly left the room, but they stayed close by outside. At the same time, the man who came in with Hanna kept offering her a drink from the plastic bottle.

“I was basically stuck with these two guys, and Quinton’s friend was being very pushy about the alcohol. ‘Here, do you want a sip of this? Come on, come on, it’s just a sip.’ And I said no.”

Eichner said Hanna began touching her thigh, moving his hand up between her legs and leaning his weight on her, like he was trying to roll over her, and leaning his head on her shoulder. He touched the side of her breast, Eichner said.

Eichner had her phone close to her face and texted a friend who lived across the hall: “You need to come over and get me out of here.”

Then Hanna took Eichner’s phone from her. “Hey are you on Facebook?” Hanna asked. He added himself as Eichner’s friend on the social network, she said.

“OK, we’re friends on Facebook, and now that we’re friends, we’re going to hang out,” Hanna said, Eichner recalled.

It was at that point that Eichner’s friend across the hall came over to help, and gave Eichner an excuse to get out of her room.

Eichner, once safe in her friend’s dorm room, locked the door and called a resident adviser. She also called a few male friends and told them that two guys had shown up in her dorm room and that one of them had sexually assaulted her.

One of the friends was Brenden Pittiglio, who lived in the same building in the men’s wing. Pittiglio said he had had a run-in with Hanna earlier in that evening, when Pittiglio was on a shuttle bus from the Maine Mall back to campus. During the trip, Hanna asked Pittiglio where he could get alcohol, and whether he knew of any parties.

But Pittiglio got a strange feeling about the encounter, and didn’t tell Hanna much. Once back on campus, Pittiglio said, he ran into Hanna a second time when he stopped by a different friend’s dorm room. Hanna and his friend were inside with a female student who asked Pittiglio to get her out of the situation because she was uncomfortable, he said.

“They were bouncing around looking for girls,” Pittiglio said.

Later that night, when he heard what had happened to Eichner, Pittiglio was talking with a resident adviser when he heard a door alarm sound. Hanna and his friend had triggered it when they walked through an emergency exit. When the RA tried to confront Hanna, he ran, Pittiglio said.

Pittiglio ran after Hanna and caught up with him a short distance away. The two teenagers grappled, and Hanna had Pittiglio in a headlock.

“He was really high,” Pittiglio said. “I don’t know what he was on, but I know it was more than just weed. He seemed very out of it. And we got into a kind of physical fight, me trying not to let him get away, him trying to get away, and a cop ended up seeing us and came over and helped me.”

Hanna was charged with unlawful sexual touching, a Class D misdemeanor, as well as disorderly conduct and trespassing on the campus, both  Class E misdemeanors. While Hanna was out on bail, he was arrested again in Yarmouth, when he punched a co-worker in the face without provocation, according to a police report.

In that case, Hanna was working at Cuddledown on Jan. 29, 2017, when he turned to a co-worker, said something along the lines of “this is for what you were talking about earlier,” and then punched the man in the nose. The co-worker, Ronald MacKinnon, said the attack was unprovoked. Afterward, Hanna claimed MacKinnon asked to be hit, but MacKinnon denied it and police charged Hanna with assault and violating the conditions of his release.

A month later, while still out on bail, Hanna was arrested again. Police were responding to an unrelated domestic situation in South Portland when they found the underage Hanna drunk, in violation of the terms of his release.

By March 2017, a judge signed off on the expedited mental evaluation.

The criminal case ended with a deferred disposition. Hanna agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges – assault and trespassing – and revealed in court records that there were underlying mental health problems that were previously unaddressed.

“Quinton has been struggling with mental health issues and only relatively recently has been well-stabilized with regard to medication and counseling,” his attorney, Jonathan Handelman, wrote in an April 2018 motion for prosecutors not to revoke his deferred disposition for failing to check in with authorities.

“He is employed, is sober, is receiving counseling for his mental health challenges, is receiving medication for his condition, and maintains appropriate contact with counsel. If he is arrested and jailed, all his progress will be jeopardized.”

Prosecutors agreed, and by January 2019, Hanna completed the deferred disposition, pleaded guilty to trespassing at the University of Southern Maine and to simple assault for touching Eichner.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.