PORTLAND — For 13 years, Sarah Perry carried with her the voice of her mother’s killer, grunting repeatedly in the next room as he stabbed Crystal Perry over and over — more than 50 times.
On Monday, she knew for certain who that man was. A jury found Michael Hutchinson, 32, guilty of murder in the 1994 slaying at Perry’s home on Route 93.

Sarah Perry was 12 and sat terrified in her bed during the brutal killing. She had stepped past her mother’s bloody body afterward and ran a half-mile barefoot in the night rain trying to alert sleeping neighbors.

On Monday, the now-25-year-old woman stood outside the Cumberland County Superior Courthouse and talked about her mother’s cold case that was finally solved by a DNA match.

A composed auburn-haired Sarah Perry, who now lives in North Carolina, said knowing who murdered her mother was the best thing that could have happened.

“Of course nothing can bring my mother back. We have missed her for 13 years, and we will continue to do so,” Perry said to reporters. “We will never know why this senseless act of violence has been committed, but it is such a relief, this outcome, and it is amazing to know that justice can be served and that it has finally come after all this waiting.”

She said it gave her an “empowering” feeling to have a real person to stare down finally instead of having to imagine the killer. It also was “surreal” and “infuriating” during the trial, especially when Hutchinson denied involvement in the crime, she said.

After the five-day trial, a jury of eight men and four women took just under two-and-a-half hours to convict Hutchinson.

Perry’s family, including her many siblings and their spouses, let out a collective audible sign of relief as the jury’s forewoman said the word: “guilty.”

Hutchinson showed no emotion when he was led from the courtroom in a cream-colored suit shortly after the verdict. His father and best friend were in the courtroom as they had been throughout the trial and watched his final exit.

Prosecutors had Hutchinson’s DNA at the crime scene from his sperm and blood. They  didn’t know it belonged to him, though, until a year ago, when a Maine Crime Lab worker was running DNA samples randomly in the state’s system from unrelated crimes. It was a perfect match. Hutchinson had never been one of the dozens of suspects in the case because there had been no known connection by police between him and Crystal Perry.

Hutchinson had been a mason in Bridgton who worked for his father and lived with his parents about a mile-and-a-half from Perry’s small, white ranch house. He told of an unhappy childhood, made worse by his mother’s jealous rages during which she would rip her clothes off, embarrassing him.

Hutchinson sought to explain how his blood and sperm had gotten into Perry’s home and on her body. He testified that he had been invited to Perry’s home on May 11, 1994, where the two had sex. A mysterious man later came through the door. He cut Hutchinson on the hand then knocked him out. When Hutchinson regained consciousness, he saw the man stabbing Perry. He knocked the man down then fled, keeping the story to himself for a dozen years, he said.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese poked holes in Hutchinson’s story, countering at every turn with conflicting forensic evidence from the scene.

“Either Michael Hutchinson is the unluckiest man alive or the guiltiest man alive,” she told the jury Monday morning during closing arguments.

After the verdict, Marchese said a well-processed crime scene convicted the defendant, presenting mostly forensics experts as witnesses.

“In my estimation, the evidence was really overwhelming,” she said. “It had always been the view of the police and my view that whoever left the sperm and the blood at the scene was the killer and, apparently, the jury agreed.”

She didn’t tell the jury what Hutchinson’s motive was, but didn’t need to. She only had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed Perry and did so intentionally or knowingly.

Hutchinson had broken down on the witness stand when he told his story and again under Marchese’s cross-examination.

His attorney, Robert Andrews, appealed to the jury Monday during his closing argument, asking them to remember his client’s demeanor, suggesting it made him a credible witness.

“Michael Hutchinson told you what happened with his emotions,” Andrews said. “That can’t be faked.”

But the jury sided with Marchese, who called attention to the “brutal, vicious” nature of the killing.

“It was a crime of rage, really,” she said afterward.

Perry’s siblings said they hope for the maximum prison sentence. Her sister, Glenice Russo of Nahant, Mass., said she wished Maine had capital punishment.

“He’s a real monster and he should be put away for the rest of his life,” she said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the death penalty.”

Wendall Farnum, Perry’s brother who lives in Rumford, said it would never be over.

“It’s been 13 years now, and we’ll never get over it. The rest of our lives we’re gonna have to put up without having our baby sister around.”

Andrews said Hutchinson was understandably upset with the verdict but promised to appeal.

Kevin Thurston of Bridgton, who said he was Hutchinson’s best friend, vowed to find the real killer.

“I’m gonna do everything until the day I die to find out what really happened,” he said. “The wrong man’s in jail.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.