SKOWHEGAN — A Hartland man was sentenced Thursday to a prison term amounting to 30 years for a shootout with police in 2019 in which a Waterville officer was wounded and some 60 rounds of gunfire were exchanged.

Richard Murray-Burns, 33, was sentenced in Somerset County Superior Court after pleading guilty in August to several charges, including 10 counts of aggravated attempted murder. His sentence was for 225 years with all but 30 years suspended. He was also given 20 years of probation during a sentencing hearing that lasted about four hours and included victim impact statements and other testimony.

Murray-Burns was driving a Honda Civic when he was stopped by Waterville police on Dec. 22, 2019, based on a shoplifting report at Walmart, where he was accused of stealing food.

Defense attorney Pamela Ames speaks on behalf of her client, Richard Murray-Burns, seated, during a January 2020 court hearing in Skowhegan. Murray-Burns was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison for causing a police chase and shootout that left a Waterville officer wounded. It was revealed during testimony Thursday that Murray-Burns was under the influence of drugs at the time. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

First Assistant District Attorney for Somerset County Frank Griffin described in court Thursday how Murray-Burns had his car equipped before leaving his home for Walmart.

“(Murray-Burns) woke up and decided to go to Walmart,” Griffin said. “And what did he bring?”

That included a plate shield that was draped over his car seat and hidden with a towel, and a piece of body armor “far stronger” than what police officers are equipped with, Griffin said.


Murray-Burns also had a .45 caliber pistol in a holster located at the small of his back. He was armed with an AR-15 pistol, Griffin said, that was “heavily modified because it can be manipulated by a forearm strap,” thus giving it the function of a pistol rather than a rifle. The weapon was modified with a binary trigger, a better scope, laser designator and in other ways.

“There were all after-market modifications,” Griffin said. “He also ground down the entry point for the magazine to make it easier and quicker to load and might make it more comfortable to shoot.”

Timothy Hinton was the Waterville officer who stopped Murray-Burns’ car. Hinton told the court Thursday that he noticed something “off” when he approached the car and saw Murray-Burns with one arm out the window. He decided not to approach the window and instead addressed Murray-Burns from the rear.

Hinton said that based on the shoplifting complaint, he likely would have pulled Murray-Burns over, asked for his side of the story, then issue him a court summons.

Instead, Murray-Burns fled, leading police on a 15-mile chase where multiple rounds were fired at law enforcement.

“I heard a loud thunk at the side of my cruiser and I couldn’t figure out what it was, I thought someone may have thrown a rock at the car,” Hinton said. “Then I realized I was being shot at.”


Hinton was first struck in his left forearm and continued his pursuit while waiting for other officers to join the call, and it was approximately eight minutes before backup arrived.

He recalls hearing more gunshots ricochet off his vehicle and the dull pain coming from his arm. Hinton testified that he attempted to make himself “as small as possible” behind the wheel to avoid the gunshots. He later was shot again, this time in the right forearm.

The shootout ended nearly 20 minutes later in Canaan, with no other officers or people injured. Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Thursday that at times during the chase Murray-Burns pulled over to wait for officers to arrive and then ambushed them with gunfire.

Murray-Burns was shot multiple times during the shootout and taken to a hospital. It was revealed in court Thursday that hospital tests indicated he had fentanyl and benzodiazepines in his system. Murray-Burns also said he was on LSD at the time and was struggling with his mental health.

He addressed the court Thursday before he was sentenced, describing his drug use and mental state at the time.

“I know what I have done is serious,” he said. “It’s no excuse. I’m not here to make excuses. This did not come from a place of hate, but a place of confusion and delusion.”


His family members spoke Thursday, including his uncle, Scott Ceurvels, who served as a father figure to Murray-Burns. Ceurvels spoke of a traumatic childhood that his nephew lived through until he was placed under his care. When Murray-Burns was his early 20s, Ceurvels recalls him returning home from a trip to Disney World following “a retreat.”

“When he came back he was different, I thought he may have gotten involved in substances,” Ceurvels said. He told his nephew to get it sorted out and the two didn’t speak for nearly four years.

“Everything seemed good until I got the call about what happened, I’m still shocked,” Ceurvels said. “I feel he was in a bad spot. I don’t deny that he needs help and is responsible. I think Rich got into a spot and he didn’t know how he got there.”

Since the shootout, Hinton and Winslow police Officer Cameron Huggins, who responded to the chase and was fired on but not injured, have both stepped back from their full-time roles as patrol officers for their departments.

Hinton initially went back to work a few months after the incident but eventually stepped away from patrol and now does other duties for the department.

“The bullet fragments worked their way out of my skin in a few days, but the bullets will be in my arms forever,” Hinton said. “The mental and emotional injuries still linger. It does something to your psyche when another human tries to kill you.”

Despite this, both Hinton and his wife said in prepared court statements that they forgive Murray-Burns.

Huggins also testified as to how the shooting affected him and his family.

“I will never fully recover from this, nor will my family,” Huggins said. “It’s one of the reasons I stepped back from full-time patrol. My son doesn’t want to be a police officer anymore, because he doesn’t want do be shot at like his daddy.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.