The 76-year-old man charged with stabbing a woman to death Sunday morning in Lewiston had a nearly 40-year pattern of killing or attacking women, but eight years ago a judge in Portland said Albert Flick would soon be too old to pose a threat to society.
At a 2010 sentencing hearing, Judge Robert E. Crowley sentenced Flick to nearly four years in prison. At the same time, the judge discarded arguments by Flick’s probation officer and a prosecutor that Flick should serve an additional four to five years because he showed no signs of slowing his extremely violent behavior, according to court records.
“At some point, Mr. Flick is going to age out of his capacity to engage in this conduct and incarcerating him beyond the time that he ages out doesn’t seem to me to make good sense from a criminological or fiscal perspective,” Crowley said, pointing out that Flick would be 72 or 73 when he would be released in 2014.
Flick is now accused of fatally stabbing Kimberly Dobbie, 48, in front of her 11-year-old twin sons outside a Lewiston laundromat. He was arrested and charged with murder Monday upon his release from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where he had been treated for chest pains after being tackled by passers-by who attempted to aid Dobbie, police said.
Dobbie and Flick were acquainted with each other, but were not romantically involved, state police said. Dobbie’s friends said Flick had been constantly following her and refused to leave her alone.
This alleged assault is the fourth time Flick has been charged with assaulting or killing a woman. He was convicted of the 1979 stabbing death of his wife in Westbrook, a crime for which he served 25 years in prison. He was also charged in 2008 and 2010 with separate attacks on different women. In 2014, during a chance encounter, Flick verbally threatened one of his past victims, court records show.
The 2010 sentencing was in response to an assault that year on a Portland woman who told police that after arguing with Flick one day at his Brackett Street apartment, Flick grabbed a knife from the kitchen, put her in a headlock and struck her repeatedly with the butt-end of the knife handle.
The woman fled the apartment after she knocked the knife from Flick’s hand. Flick then went to find another weapon.
“If that doesn’t work, I know what will,” Flick said, according to court records.
But the woman escaped to her own apartment nearby, where she watched as Flick ran up her driveway with a screwdriver in his hand.
When police found Flick, he had returned to his building and was in the process of committing suicide, according to a police report filed in court. Officers wrote that they found Flick behind his apartment building with a noose around his neck and saw Flick hang himself from his back fire escape. It was roughly three seconds before officers were able to cut him down, but Flick was already unconscious. He was rushed to a hospital, where he recovered.
At the time of the 2010 assault, Flick was also on probation for the previous incident in which he attacked a girlfriend in 2008, and then tried to intimidate her and prevent her from testifying against him.
That meant that at the 2010 sentencing, Crowley had the power to sentence Flick on two sets of charges: Violating the terms of his probation from the 2008 assault, and the new conduct against the woman who he chased with the screwdriver.
The prosecutor, Katherine Tierney, asked Crowley to fully revoke Flick’s 2008 probation and send him back to prison for three years and 11 months, and an additional sentence of four to five years for the new criminal conduct, according to a transcript filed in court.
“I know that the defendant is an older man and that the court and society may think that this individual is going to stop committing crimes, especially crimes against women and violent crimes against women with weapons, but his history has really shown that he’s just not about to do that, and so I think the only appropriate sentence is for significant prison time,” Tierney said.
“Clearly, probation is not working. … At this point, I just don’t know what else to do. I think there’s a huge safety risk to women and society when it comes to Mr. Flick. …”
Also present at the sentencing: Troy Thornton, Flick’s probation officer, who argued that Flick’s violent behavior would not stop.
“He’s an extremely violent individual when it comes to relationships,” Thornton said. “He doesn’t appear to have slowed down at this point, and I don’t see him slowing down in the near future.”
Thornton asked the judge to require Flick to inform the probation department of any romantic relationships into which he had entered — an unusual request, Thornton said.
Crowley decided to fully revoke Flick’s probation, sending him back to prison for nearly four years. For the 2010 assault, Crowley handed down a three-year, suspended sentence, with one year of probation upon his release.
But Flick’s trouble with the law did not end there. After his release, Flick and the woman he tried to assault with the screwdriver saw each other on Congress Street in Portland. Flick stared her down and got in her face.
“You’ll get yours,” Flick told her, according to court records.
The woman flagged down a police officer, who found Flick and arrested him. He was later indicted by a Cumberland County grand jury on a charge of felony criminal threatening, but pleaded to a lesser charge of violating his probation.
That Flick has been accused again of violence against a woman does not surprise the daughter of the Westbrook woman he stabbed to death in 1979. lsie Clement, Sandra Flick’s daughter from a previous marriage, was a frightened 12-year-old who ran from the house when she saw Albert Flick attacking her mother.
Now 52, Clement said she felt horror and anger when she woke up Tuesday morning and began seeing news reports about the deadly attack in Lewiston.
“I firmly believe this could have been prevented,” Clement said Tuesday night during a telephone interview from her home in Silver Springs, Florida. “There is no reason this man should have been on the streets in the first place, no reason.”
Clement said the justice system failed her mother, Kimberly Dobbie and the other women who were victimized by Flick by providing him with the opportunity to do more harm.
Despite the system’s shortcomings, Clement said there is little that the courts can do now to punish Flick given his age. She predicts he will appeal any convictions, a pattern that emerged following his August 1979 conviction when he filed an appeal with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
“He’ll be dead before he can fulfill any sentence,” she said.
Clement is more concerned with how Dobbie’s sons will do now that their mother has been taken from them.
“To have to watch someone slaughter their mother on the street, who is going to explain that to her children?” said Clement, who is married and has several children. “This horrible act of violence is going to stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
When Flick went on trial in 1979, Clement said she was not allowed to attend the proceedings. But if he ever does go back to trial, she plans to return to Maine to confront her mother’s murderer face to face. She described Flick as being “violent and mentally unstable” in 1979.
“I have a multitude of things that I’d like to say to him that can’t be printed,” she said.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.