AUBURN — A former Auburn man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection to the death of his ex-girlfriend's baby is hoping to shorten his stay in prison.
Todd Gamache, 25, is serving a 14-year sentence at Maine State Prison. Four of the 18 years in his sentence were suspended by a judge in Androscoggin County Superior Court last year.
Gamache filed a petition alleging he received ineffective legal assistance by his court-appointed attorney, David Van Dyke, who practices law in Lewiston.
In his petition, Gamache wrote that Van Dyke "failed to file a motion to challenge the state's evidence, to deem admissible or inadmissible for trial." Gamache said those failures led him to agree to a plea bargain and not take his case to trial.
Gamache also wrote that Van Dyke failed to provide effective legal assistance during sentencing. He said he was seeking a hearing to lessen the time of his incarceration. He asked for a court-appointed lawyer to represent him in his effort to get a post-conviction review of his case.
A grand jury indicted Gamache on a count of murder in the March 2007 death of 8-month-old Emmy Leigh Cole. Gamache pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year. The murder count was dismissed.
At his February 2008 plea hearing, a judge asked Gamache whether he understood his right to maintain his innocence and take his case to trial. Gamache said he did. The judge asked whether Gamache believed waiving his right to trial was the best thing to do at the time. Gamache said he did.
Gamache first tried to plead "no contest," but changed his manslaughter plea to "guilty" after a quick conference among the attorneys and the judge.
Prosecutors outlined their case against Gamache during the plea hearing. They said they would have offered testimony from day care workers who would have said they noticed bruising on the baby's toes and fingertips and urged the mother to take her baby to a doctor.
Witnesses would have testified that Gamache picked up the baby from her mother to take her back to her Auburn home where Gamache also lived. When the baby's mother arrived home with one of her daughters, Gamache told her to call 911 because there was something wrong with the baby.
Prosecutors would have presented witnesses who would say Gamache's account of what happened during the roughly 45 minutes he was alone with the baby changed as he retold his story.
A conference with the judge and attorneys is scheduled for Sept. 23.