PORTLAND — A Sabattus man who has spent every birthday and Christmas since he was 15 behind bars was sentenced Friday in federal court to more than six years in prison for being a felon with a gun.

Gage Henry Androscoggin County Jail

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal imposed a 6½-year sentence on Gage Henry, 21, who pleaded guilty in January to the Class C felony. He will be on supervised release for three years after serving his sentence.

He had been facing up to 10 years in prison for the crime.

Since age 15, Henry has been free from incarceration for only 18 months, according to his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Heather Gonzales.

“He does not know how to function in society,” she wrote to Judge Singal before Friday’s sentencing. “He is failing in life and needs help. His struggles are rooted in his exposure to domestic violence and drug addiction as a child.”

Gonzales wrote that Henry’s history of violence started during his confinement at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. He became an opiate addict in prison, she wrote. “No wonder he is where he is today.”

Authorities serving a warrant for Henry’s arrest on June 20, 2019, at a Lewiston motel room found a loaded Smith and Wesson M&P .45-caliber Shield handgun on the bedside table.

Prosecutors said Henry’s shoes were directly under the bedside table where the gun was located. Female clothing and accessories were found on the opposite side of the bed, they said.

Evidence technicians found DNA on the surface of the gun that matched, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, a cheek swab sample taken from Henry, according to court documents.

Due to a prior felony conviction, Henry had been prohibited from having a firearm.

On Oct. 23, 2017, he pleaded guilty in Androscoggin County Superior Court to aggravated assault, a Class B felony. At his plea hearing, a judge said he would be prohibited from having any firearms.

Earlier that year, a woman he had been dating told police Henry had punched her in the eye when she was assisting his roommates in waking him up for work. She had retreated to her Jefferson Street apartment, where he tracked her down and pinned her against a hallway wall and choked her, according to court papers.

He was sentenced in county court to five years in prison, with all but nine months and one day suspended.

Henry was born into an abusive, drug addicted household, his attorney said. “His father was a violent drug addict who was in and out of jail for the first 10 years of Gage’s life and abandoned the family when Gage was 3 years old,” Gonzales wrote. “His mother was an opiate addict who worked long hours to support the family.”

Henry’s older sister ended up taking care of him until he was 10, when she moved away from home, Gonzales said.

“Gage often found his mother sleeping on the couch with a knife under her pillow because she was afraid of her boyfriend,” Gonzales wrote.

Henry witnessed “significant domestic violence between the two (adults.) He felt responsible for protecting his mother and tried to intervene in the fights between her and her boyfriend, to no avail. He felt helpless.” That’s when he turned to drugs, Gonzales wrote.

At age 12, he had been having problems at school and moved in with his father, but his stepmother would lock him out of their home. At 14, he was arrested for theft and sent to Long Creek. He was in and out of that facility for a couple of years when his father kicked him out of the house, Gonzales wrote.

At age 16, homeless and stealing to buy food and the occasional motel room, Henry asked a judge to commit him because he had nowhere to live and no one to look after him, Gonzales wrote. He “desperately wanted services he believed Long Creek could provide,” she wrote.

“One might say his childhood ended that day,” she wrote, “but the reality is that he never had a childhood to begin with.”

A period of violence and heroin addiction followed. He responded well to mental health therapy and medication and was released from Long Creek on his 18th birthday. But he was given no reentry plan or medications, Gonzales wrote. Seven months later, he assaulted his girlfriend.

“At 21, Gage is completely lost and begging for mercy,” Gonzales wrote.

She urged the judge to hand down a sentence of six years plus three years of supervised release, citing his plea agreement with prosecutors.

“This court should not give up on Gage,” she wrote, “He is too young.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee wrote in court papers that Henry had not completed a drug rehabilitation program while on bail and was arrested for a bail violation. He later allegedly helped in the escape of a fellow inmate at Cumberland County.

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