HOULTON, Maine — An Orient man who was charged in connection with a triple homicide in Amity in June 2010 and then arrested again in August on a drug offense has pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.
Robert Strout, 64, entered the new pleas in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on Wednesday morning before Justice E. Allen Hunter.
Strout was arrested in September 2010 and charged with hindering apprehension and arson for his role in helping conceal evidence in a triple homicide investigation in the Aroostook County town of Amity. Strout originally pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged in court Wednesday that he helped the accused killer in the case, Thayne Ormsby, 21, of Ellsworth, conceal evidence and burn the vehicle of one of the victims.
The three victims were 10-year-old Jesse Ryan, his father, 55-year-old Jeffrey Ryan, and Jason Dehahn, a 30-year-old family friend. All three were stabbed to death at Jeffrey Ryan’s U.S. Route 1 home owned.
Strout was out on bail on those charges when he was arrested by officers with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in August and charged with aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs and violation of bail. He also initially pleaded not guilty to those charges, but changed his plea Wednesday.
As part of a plea agreement, Strout will serve a minimum of two years and faces up to four years in prison on all the charges. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said after the hearing that Strout was offered the plea in part to secure his “truthful testimony” against Ormsby during the murder trial. That trial has not yet been scheduled and Benson acknowledged that it could be up to two years away. Strout will not be sentenced until after he testifies at the trial.
The 64-year-old, who told Hunter that he is disabled, also acknowledged in court that he gave 170 tablets of the prescription painkiller oxycodone to his grandson Craig Strout-Desmond, 24, of Ellsworth. Strout reportedly told MDEA agents that he had a prescription for 180 pills and that he had been filling the prescription and giving the pills to his grandson for at least five months before his arrest. Strout-Desmond and his girlfriend, Brianna Bonness, 24, who also is from Ellsworth, were charged with trafficking in oxycodone after MDEA agents reportedly found the drugs in their vehicle during a traffic stop on Aug. 3. Bonness also was charged with possession of drugs and violation of conditions of release.
Strout’s bail had been set at $50,000 surety or $20,000 cash, which he made shortly after the hearing. He was released early Wednesday afternoon from the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. Hunter added additional conditions to Strout’s bail, including that he not use alcohol or drugs other than what he is prescribed, submit to random searches and testing, enter into a contract with Maine Pretrial Services and take all of his medications as prescribed.
Members of the victims families were furious Wednesday afternoon over the plea agreement and the fact that they were not given sufficient notice about Strout’s hearing. Shannon Ryan, the brother of Jesse Ryan and the son of Jeffrey Ryan, said that he and his sister were only notified about Wednesday’s hearing at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Shannon Ryan lives in Texas and was outraged that he was not given time to make arrangements to attend the hearing. He also said that neither he nor any of his family members were notified that Strout was going to be offered a plea agreement.
“I cannot tell you right now how angry I am,” said Ryan.
Family members of the victims did not appear to be in the courtroom Wednesday. Members of Strout’s family were present and appeared ecstatic when he was granted bail.