Zachary Phach, 34, enters a courtroom at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Monday for his sentencing in the killing of Matthew Blanchard in Portland in 2012. Phach will serve 12 years in prison under a plea deal his attorney Tim Zerillo, right, reached with prosecutors. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Zachary Phach stared down at the desk in front of him as he listened to a victim witness advocate read the prepared statement on behalf of Matthew Blanchard’s sister.

“Your actions have devastated me and my family,” Suna Shaw read from Chantelle Blanchard’s letter. “We are angry, hurt and broken, and that is all because of you.”

Matthew Blanchard

Phach, 34, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to felony murder in Blanchard’s 2012 death. He accepted a plea deal in July and is expected to serve 12 years of his sentence and four years of probation.

The atmosphere in the Cumberland County courtroom was solemn during the brief proceeding. Phach and several of Blanchard’s family members elected to have others share statements aloud rather than address the court themselves.

Blanchard’s family said Phach’s conviction was a first step toward justice, but Blanchard’s slaying still cuts deep more than a decade later. In a statement shared by Shaw, Blanchard’s father Ron and half-brother Corey described Blanchard as a “peacemaker” who helped hold the family together.

“Our family became fractured and broken as a result of this, and our lives have never been the same,” Shaw read. “We want to forgive those that took his life and almost the lives of our other family, but it is hard. We truly want to feel a sense of remorse from you, but we have not to date gotten that.”


Phach did not look back at Blanchard’s family sitting behind him as he listened to the statements from Chantelle Blanchard and Blanchard’s mother Mary LeClair. When given the opportunity to speak, he handed his prepared remarks to his attorney, Tim Zerillo, and asked him to read them on his behalf.

Phach apologized to the city of Portland and to the Blanchards, as well as his own family.

“I’m ashamed of myself for my actions, and I’m working to fix myself every day,” Zerillo read. “I know all the ‘sorry’ I say will not bring him back, but I do hope you can forgive me in time. If not, I understand.”

The July 10, 2012, shooting at the corner of Congress and India streets happened while Blanchard, 24, was still reeling from the death of his girlfriend Casey Green two weeks earlier, family members told the Press Herald in 2013. Green had been killed when Blanchard fell asleep at the wheel of his car and hit a tree.

Three of Blanchard’s brothers met him that evening to keep him company and try to get his mind off the crash and the physical injuries he was still suffering. The brothers had stopped in a convenience store for potato chips and soda when a man fired several shots at them. Blanchard’s stepbrother Joshua Hersom and half-brother John Howard Jr. were hit and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

But the bullet that struck Blanchard in the chest killed him.



The shooting remained unsolved for years until a jailhouse informant came forward and police charged Phach and another man, Khang Tran, in April 2021. They said Tran had a “beef” with the brothers and had told Phach to bring a gun to the area that night to settle the issue.

Prosecutors dropped the most serious charges against Tran, including murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault, after he pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy. That left only the case against Phach, who police say fired the 9 mm bullets that killed Blanchard.

Just days before his trial was due to begin this July, Phach accepted what his attorney called an “11th hour” deal. The state dropped several charges, including aggravated attempted murder, two counts of elevated aggravated assault, and conspiracy to commit intentional murder, in exchange for the plea. They also agreed to reduce the original charge of intentional or knowing murder to a lesser felony murder charge.

A person is guilty of felony murder if a death is caused while committing or trying to commit a felony, such as robbery, burglary or kidnapping. Felony murder has more lenient sentencing guidelines, with a maximum of 30 years and the possibility of early release.

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