AUBURN — A judge sentenced a local man Tuesday to serve seven years of a 15-year sentence in prison for the fatal stabbing of a Lewiston man last year.

Bryan Peabody Androscoggin County Jail photo

Bryan Peabody, 26, of Hampshire Street agreed to a manslaughter conviction in exchange for prosecutors dropping a murder charge which, in Maine, carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Upon release, Peabody will be on probation for four years, during which he will be barred from having alcohol, illegal drugs and dangerous weapons. He must also undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations and treatment.

Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis told Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II on Tuesday that the knife Peabody was believed to have used to stab Lawrence Kilkenny, 48, on June 3 outside Peabody’s apartment building was never recovered and was thought to have been thrown in a river.

A knife that was recovered at the scene was found to have Kilkenny’s DNA on the handle, indicating it had belonged to him. Defense attorneys had had the knife shipped to an out-of-state lab for further DNA testing.

“We felt we would have had a pretty significant self-defense argument,” defense attorney James Howaniec said.

Also, witnesses at the scene gave inconsistent statements to police of the events leading up to Kilkenny’s death, Ellis and Howaniec told Justice Stewart.

Howaniec told Stewart his client agreed to the terms of the plea because of the risk posed by going to trial on a murder charge and the possible sentence that could be imposed were he convicted.

Howaniec said Peabody had a history of mental illness.

“Mr. Peabody has a substantial history of psychiatric admissions dating back to early childhood,” Howaniec said.

“There was some evidence that he was suffering at least an abnormal condition of mind here. He’s told us that he barely remembers the incident, although there does seem to be some evidence of goal directed behavior, certainly flight from the scene and what happened in the ensuing 24 hours or so,” Howaniec said.

Peabody was deemed competent to stand trial, Howaniec said.

A medical examiner determined that Kilkenny suffered about 20 slashing or puncture wounds, including two in the back that punctured a lung, resulting in a fatal loss of blood, Ellis said.

Howaniec said the number of stab wounds may have handicapped the defense had the case gone to trial.

“Certainly, a reasonable jury could have come to a conclusion that there was a murder here,” he said.

Howaniec said his client had been provoked by Kilkenny who is said to have made homophobic slurs before the fight with Peabody, who recently “came out as gay,” Howaniec said.

Ellis said police responded to a 911 call for a disturbance shortly after 11 p.m. at Peabody’s apartment building on June 3, 2020.

Officers who responded found Kilkenny on the side porch with what appeared to be multiple stab wounds to his chest and back. He was treated at the scene and taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he was pronounced dead, Ellis said.

Although statements from witnesses were inconsistent, a couple of the witnesses said, “Mr. Kilkenny at some point, had gotten into a dispute with Mr. Peabody and made a homophobic slur toward him. Then Mr. Peabody got quite upset and attacked Lawrence Kilkenny,” Ellis said.

Justice Stewart also ordered Peabody to pay $1,200.50 to a fund covering Kilkenny’s funeral expenses.

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