N.H. felon ‘understands’ killer of sex offenders

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BANGOR (AP) – A New Hampshire man who set fire to the homes of at least seven sex offenders and stabbed another with a 14-inch kitchen knife says he can relate to Stephen Marshall, the young Canadian who shot and killed two sex offenders in Maine.

“I understand perfectly why he did it,” Lawrence Trant told the Bangor Daily News in an interview at the New Hampshire State Prison, where he is serving a 10- to 30-year sentence.

When Marshall, 20, of North Sydney, Nova Scotia, put a bullet through his head on a bus in Boston on Easter Sunday as police closed in on him, he apparently took with him his reasons for the killings.

Marshall had researched Joseph Gray of Milo, William Elliott of Corinth and others listed on Maine’s online registry of convicted sex offenders, but state police said hard drives collected from Marshall’s computers failed to yield additional clues as to what precisely had motivated him to kill the two men.

Paraphrasing his own motives for his vigilante-style crimes in 2003, Trant said Marshall “felt that every child who was molested was an offense against him personally. He was just sick and tired of it.”

Trant said he not only understands the young Marshall, but mourns his death far more than those of his victims.

“I don’t feel too much pain for the people he killed,” Trant said. “I don’t feel we have the right to do that, but it’s not a great loss to our society.”

Parallels have been drawn between Marshall’s case and those of Trant and Michael Anthony Mullen, 36, of Bellingham, Wash., who was sentenced to 44 years in prison for killing two convicted sex offenders he found on his state’s online registry.

Both Trant and Mullen had been in and out of prison before their violent outbursts, mostly for such offenses as theft and check fraud and receiving stolen property. Marshal had a run-in with the law as a juvenile when he used a gun to break up a fight at his father’s house when they lived in Idaho.

Mullen, like Trant, said his violence against sex offenders was spawned by disgust for their crimes and his wish to protect children.

Trant said he was sexually abused as a child by a youth worker at his church. Mullen was abused by a neighbor while in elementary school, according to his brother.

There has been speculation that Marshall, an introverted dishwasher, also had been molested, but police have uncovered no evidence to support that theory. Trant said that based on his own past, it was a possibility.

“People don’t just take that kind of stand for no reason,” he said.

William Stokes, who heads the Maine attorney general’s criminal division, said Marshall’s stand was vigilantism at its worst.

“Let’s not make this kid a hero,” Stokes said. “He was clearly a sick kid, but he’s still a murderer and that’s how he should be viewed. We may never know what made him tick, but there’s nothing positive about it,” Stokes said.

Trant, who now spends much of his time writing to legislators to ask for harsher penalties for sex offenders, said, upon reflection, that he agrees with Stokes’ sentiments about vigilantism.

“I’m not ashamed of it, but I’m not proud of it,” Trant said of his crimes. “I did it for a reason. I’m not a monster. The monsters are the ones who victimize children.”

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