AUBURN — A Sabattus man pleaded guilty Friday to felony assault charges stemming from a stabbing incident in a car about a year ago in Lisbon.
Leein Hinkley, 31, agreed to a sentence capped at 20 years in prison in which he would have to serve 15 years. At the time of sentencing, he can argue for a lesser base sentence and for a greater portion of it to be suspended. Both sides agreed that he would be put on probation for six years after his time behind bars.
Asked in Androscoggin County Superior Court by Justice MaryGay Kennedy whether he was pleading guilty because he was, in fact, guilty, he said he was.
He will remain in jail until he is sentenced. A sentencing date wasn’t set.
Hinkley pleaded guilty to a charge of elevated aggravated assault in the stabbing of Jennifer Alexander, his former girlfriend. That charge is listed in the highest class of crimes and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Hinkley also pleaded to a charge of aggravated assault in the stabbing of John Clark of Lisbon, who came to the aid of Alexander. That charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
A charge of attempted murder is expected to be dropped.
A jury had been picked and a trial was scheduled for Tuesday.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Worden said he had planned to call 26 witnesses and to present physical evidence to prove the state’s case against Hinkley beyond a reasonable doubt.
Worden said witnesses would have testified that they were having dinner at a home on King Street in Lisbon when they saw a silver Honda moving erratically along the street before pulling into a driveway across the street from a relative’s home.
John Clark saw the Honda pull into his driveway. Alexander was in the driver’s seat and a child was in the back seat. He saw a man in the passenger seat striking the driver. He went to the car, opened the driver’s door and tried to pull Alexander from her seat. He saw Hinkley strike Alexander in the chest. Clark tried to get her safety belt off so he could pull her to safety when the car popped into gear and moved into the street, Worden said.
Alexander was freed from her seat, then Hinkley got out and confronted Clark, Worden said. Clark felt a pinch in his shoulder and realized he’d been stabbed. The neighbors across the street had come to the scene and saw Hinkley holding a knife. Hinkley fled in the Honda. In the back seat was 14-month-old Maxwell, the son of Alexander and Hinkley.
Hinkley had filed a motion that was heard in September, in which his former attorney argued that Hinkley wasn’t competent to stand trial. Throughout that hearing, Hinkley sat in the courtroom, his head in his hands, shaking from side to side, his knees pumping, his hands trembling. A psychologist testified that Hinkley was competent to stand trial if he chose to cooperate and stay on proper medication.
At Friday’s hearing, Kennedy asked whether Hinkley understood the charges against him. He said he did.
Hinkley’s attorney, George Hess, said he confirmed the police report with witnesses and expected they would have testified as prosecutors suggested. Hess said he would have presented his own witnesses to bolster the defense’s theory of how the events transpired.
“I think we could have rebutted some of the things said,” Hess said.
Hinkley has a prior felony conviction for a 2004 burglary.