DOVER-FOXCROFT — A Bath man with ties to the state’s Libertarian party is facing nine charges after attempting to kill a 29-year-old woman Monday morning in Shirley, officials said.

Christopher Hallowell, 24, made his initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in Piscataquis County Superior Court, where it was revealed that the victim, Megan Jennison, whom Hallowell allegedly shot in the hip and beat with the butt of a gun, is the wife of his mother’s cousin. An assistant district attorney, Christopher Almy, said Hallowell has a “history of mental psychiatric problems” and believed that his relatives were mistreating his great-grandmother, which is the alleged motive in the case.

Hallowell is charged with class A aggravated attempted murder, class A attempted murder, class B aggravated assault, class C criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, three counts of class C reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, class C eluding an officer and class E operating after suspension.

He is being held at the Piscataquis County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $25,000 cash bail with a surety. His next court appearance, a dispositional conference, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 9. Hallowell is required to undergo a psychological evaluation before then. Jury selection for a potential trial would take place Nov. 12, Judge Kevin Stitham said.

During the arraignment, Almy called the case “serious” and maintained that Hallowell’s actions Monday were premeditated, warranting the aggravated attempted murder charge. After the session ended, Almy added that there is evidence that Hallowell intended to kill Jennison; her husband, Mark Jennison; and Mark Jennison’s sister, Nicole Jennison, though Hallowell did not explicitly tell law enforcement about those plans. The grandmother whom Mark Jennison, Nicole Jennison and Hallowell’s mother share — Carmen Jennison — is the person whose well-being concerned Hallowell and spurred the crime. Hallowell’s attorney, Christopher Smith, said the defendant splits his time by living sometimes in a Sidney residence owned by Carmen Jennison at 90 Lower Shirley Corner Road and sometimes in a Bath residence owned by his grandmother, Lynn Jennison, at 379 Ridge Road.

Stitham prohibited Hallowell from staying in Shirley if he is released on bail. Other bail conditions include a daily curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., no possession of weapons and no contact with Megan Jennison, Mark Jennison and two people, Shirley residents Barbara and Wayne Plummer, who tried to help Megan Jennison after she was wounded. Almy noted after the court appearance that he “probably should have” requested no contact with Nicole Jennison as well.

“The Jennisons are scared to death of (Hallowell) getting out of jail,” Almy said to Stitham before he handed down the bail conditions Tuesday.

Christopher Almy, a district attorney for Penobsot and Piscatquis counties, speaks with the news media on Tuesday in Dover-Foxcroft after a hearing about aggravated attempted murder suspect Christopher Hallowell. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

On the morning of the incident, Hallowell allegedly left his mother’s house in Shirley and walked along a path to a horse barn that Megan Jennison owns on Greenville Road, which is also Route 15, according to Almy. There, he hid in the tack room for two or three hours, waiting for Megan Jennison to come. He had a .22-caliber rifle and a .38-caliber handgun with him.

“As soon as she came in the barn, he started shooting and (struck) her in the hip,” Almy said. Megan Jennison recognized Hallowell as the shooter almost immediately, he said. After a failed attempt to escape through a rear door, Megan Jennison allegedly ran past Hallowell and out the front entrance. He then chased her out the door and struck her in the head with the butt of one of the weapons, according to Almy’s case notes, which summarized the victim’s statement to district attorney’s investigator Scott Arno.

“She struggled with the defendant by grabbing the barrel of his rifle and was injured during this encounter,” Almy’s notes state.

The Plummers found Megan Jennison “running frantically,” Almy said, on Route 15 as they were driving south, helped her into their truck and called 911 at 6:44 a.m. Megan Jennison reportedly told the couple that a man was trying to kill her and that he had shot and beat her.

“The Plummers said they could see that she was bleeding from the hip area,” according to Almy’s case notes. “Ms. Jennison got into their truck and at that point the Plummers saw a man, later identified as the defendant running up the road towards them brandishing a pistol. The defendant shot three times at their truck one of which flattened their rear passenger tire.”

At that point, Hallowell is believed to have fled the scene in his Ford Escape, Almy noted. A state trooper found his car around 8:15 a.m. in Albion and pursued him in a brief car chase that ended when Hallowell crashed at the intersection of Clark and Winslow roads, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

Christopher Hallowell, left, waits with a sheriff’s deputy Tuesday for the door to open to the Piscatquis County Jail in Dover Foxcroft after a hearing on a charge of aggravated attempted murder and other charges after his arrest Monday in Albion. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Megan Jennison was taken on Monday to the Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft with injuries that were not deemed life-threatening, said Chief Deputy Todd Lyford, of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department. Almy said on Tuesday afternoon that doctors advised that the bullet in her hip not be removed. A Mayo Regional Hospital representative said the hospital had no patient by the name of Megan Jennison as of 6 p.m. Tuesday and declined to comment on a potential discharge date or time.

Hallowell was convicted in 2014 on a charge of criminal mischief, according to a background check from the State Bureau of Identification. The report also said a class D assault tied to the same incident had been dismissed. Almy said on Tuesday that the 2014 case involved a relative of Hallowell’s.

Each count of a class A crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Class B crimes are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, class C crimes are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and class E crimes are punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Together, this means Hallowell could face a sentence of up to 95 years in prison and a fine of $150,000 if he is found guilty of all nine charges brought against him.

 

LIBERTARIAN PARTY RESPONSE

Hallowell was a former secretary of the Libertarian Party of Maine’s executive committee and campaigned in February to replace Democrat Rep. Jennifer DeChant in the District 52 seat in Maine’s House of Representatives. DeChant unexpectedly vacated the seat Feb. 1, necessitating a special election in April. After failing to receive the 50 signatures required in order for his name to appear on the ballot, Hallowell dropped out at the end of February. He told The Times Record that he could not collect the necessary signatures because he was caring for his great-grandmother in Greenville. Democrat Sean Palhus eventually won the race.

Jim Baines, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Maine, told The Times Record Tuesday that the party did not endorse Hallowell’s campaign. The party is so small, Baines said, that it does not have nominating votes like the state’s Democratic or Republican parties. Despite this, The Times Record received a news release announcing that Hallowell had been “nominated to run on the Libertarian ticket for the House District 52 special election” after a Feb. 9 meeting of the party’s executive committee. Baines maintained that there was never an official nomination vote but that at the Feb. 9 meeting, “(Hallowell) said he was going to run and we said ‘OK.'”

In an email to the Morning Sentinel, Baines wrote: “Mr. Hallowell sent unauthorized press releases on behalf of our party that he was to run for the State House candidacy. We never sent those press releases, nor was Mr. Hallowell authorized by the LPME to send them.  In short, he was a self-proclaimed ‘candidate.’ After some serious internal issues with him, the LPME had no intention of ever supporting any Hallowell ‘candidacy.’”

Baines said that Hallowell ran the Libertarian Party of Maine’s Facebook page in February and that disputes between Hallowell and other members of the party led Hallowell eventually to take down the Facebook page and remove some of its administrators’ names later in the month.

“He lost our blessing once he started sabotaging us,” Baines stated, adding that he and other members of the party knew Hallowell would not get the required votes to be on the ballot.

The Libertarian Party of Maine lost its official state party status in December after it failed to receive 10,000 votes in the 2018 midterm elections. At least 5,000 voters need to register as Libertarian by January 2020 in order for the party to regain its official status and be able to put forward a candidate for the 2020 election.

Darcie Moore of The Times Record contributed to this report.


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