PORTLAND – A judge sentenced Jeffery “Russ” Gorman to 60 years in prison Monday for the fatal shooting of Amy St. Laurent, who disappeared after a night of dancing in Portland’s Old Port in 2001.

Gorman, 23, was convicted of murder after a weeklong trial in January. Under the sentence imposed by Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills, he will serve a minimum of 51 years in prison.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Mills said the slaying wasn’t premeditated and therefore didn’t warrant the maximum sentence.

But Mills said Gorman was a dangerous person who had remained defiant throughout his incarceration and the trial.

“You have shown absolutely no remorse for your conduct,” Mills said.

St. Laurent’s parents, who gave impassioned statements to the court, said afterward that the sense of relief they were searching for is missing.

“No matter how many years he gets, it will never bring her back,” said Dennis St. Laurent, Amy’s father, who wore a button with his daughter’s photo.

In a courtroom statement, Dennis St. Laurent had harsh words for Gorman and asked the judge to impose the death penalty, a symbolic statement since Maine doesn’t have the death penalty.

“You burn in hell, Gorman,” he said, staring at the defendant, who sat in his chair motionless.

Amy’s sister, Julie St. Laurent, recalled putting up posters with her sister’s picture after she disappeared. She said Gorman winked at her and harassed her during the trial.

“She doesn’t get a second chance, and I don’t think you should either,” she said.

St. Laurent’s mother, Diane Jenkins, spoke of the pain of not knowing where her daughter was and of packing up Amy’s apartment, canceling her telephone service, and notifying family members that she was dead.

“Do not dare to say you are sorry to me, because I don’t believe you understand the meaning of the word,” she said.

At the end of her statement she hugged a large photograph of Amy and turned so that the entire court could see.

“This is my daughter, and this is now how I get to hold my daughter,” she said, turning to stare at Gorman, who did not react.

Gorman’s family spoke in his defense.

“He is a caring person. He is not evil. He is not a monster,” said his mother, Tammy Westbrook, who said her son is “picked on” in jail and has been stabbed seven times.

Gorman declined to make a statement to the court.

St. Laurent, 25, of South Berwick, disappeared early on Oct. 21, 2001, setting off an intense search. She was last been seen with Gorman, who drove her away from an after-hours party in a Portland apartment around 1:45 a.m. Gorman denied involvement in the disappearance.

Police found St. Laurent’s body on Dec. 8, 2001, in a shallow grave in woods near the home of Gorman’s mother in Scarborough.

Gorman fled just before the body was found and was arrested in his hometown of Troy, Ala., after an armed standoff.

During the trial, jurors heard a tape of Tammy Westbrook’s testimony to a grand jury in which she said her son called her the day St. Laurent’s body was discovered and admitted he had shot her in the head. At trial Westbrook testified she couldn’t remember the phone call.

Gorman’s attorney, Clifford Strike, said Monday he will use judge’s decision to let jurors hear the tape as the basis for an appeal.

Prosecutors said the slaying of St. Laurent was a premeditated act to cover up an attempted rape, justifying a life sentence.

Strike argued that the killing did not qualify for the maximum sentence because there was little evidence of a sexual assault or premeditation. Gorman’s age and history of depression made a life sentence inappropriate, he said.

“He is capable of change,” said Strike, who recommended a sentence of 38 years in prison for his client.

AP-ES-06-30-03 1646EDT



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