PORTLAND (AP) – The man charged with fatally stabbing a store clerk on a downtown Portland street last year will be going to prison for 25 years.

John Mandarelli Jr., 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and robbery for killing Jeffrey Rainey, 32, with a knife that was concealed in a cane.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Roland Cole sentenced Mandarelli to 35 years in prison, with 10 of those years suspended. With time off for good behavior, Mandarelli could be out of prison in just over 21 years.

Rainey and another employee from Olympia Sports chased Mandarelli out of the store on Dec. 1, 2002, after Mandarelli stole a pair of $30 pants. When Mandarelli was caught, he stabbed Rainey in the heart with a knife with an 8-inch blade.

After hearing from prosecutors, Rainey family members, Mandarelli’s attorney and Mandarelli himself, Cole said a sentence of 25 years was appropriate given Mandarelli’s lengthy criminal record and the impact of the crime on the Rainey family, including the victim’s 9-year-old son.

“The random violence here, the loss of an outstanding young man who was a loving grandson, son, brother and, most of all, father, that loss is forever,” Cole said.

Several members of Rainey’s family addressed Cole and Mandarelli during the hearing, expressing their love for Rainey and their anger toward Mandarelli. In a letter read out loud in court by a family member, Rainey’s son wrote that he hears Mandarelli’s voice and sees his face in his nightmares.

“I wanted you to die like my daddy, but they don’t do that in Maine,” the letter said.

Mandarelli later stood up, faced the family members in the rear of the courtroom and apologized in a distraught, quivering voice.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean for none of this to happen. There’s no excuse for what I’ve done.”

As part of the sentence, Mandarelli is required to serve six years probation, during which he is to undergo psychological and substance abuse counseling.

After the slaying, police and friends said Mandarelli had a long history of drug abuse and had taken methadone the day of the stabbing. Methadone is a synthetic narcotic widely used to help addicts control their dependence on drugs such as heroin, morphine or OxyContin.

AP-ES-07-02-03 1648EDT

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