Man blamed for 6 deaths asks Maine governor for clemency

AP News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2017 2:39 PM

CHARLESTON, Maine (AP) — A man blamed for the deaths of six people in four states and serving a life prison sentence is trying to persuade Gov. Paul LePage to give him another chance.

Richard Steeves, 75, told the Governor's Board on Executive Clemency last month that he's rehabilitated himself, conquered his demons and performed good works that include providing hospice care to inmates, caring for neglected dogs and giving piano lessons.

No attorney, friend or family member provided support during Steeves' presentation, the Boston Globe reported.

Steeves, who contends he's suffered extensive sexual abuse since childhood, has spent all but 18 months of his life in state custody since the age of 12.

He was blamed for a three-state killing rampage in 1965 and 1966 that claimed the lives of two men in Maine, a father and son in Ohio, and another man in New Hampshire. He was found to be criminally insane in New Hampshire and Ohio but was never tried in Maine for those killings, the Globe reported.

He was released from New Hampshire's custody in 1984 after being treated for mental illness. And less than six months later, he fatally beat a 69-year-old shopkeeper in Wells, Maine.

It was while Steeves was detained for the shopkeeper's killing that he made incriminating statements about that slaying to a Concord Monitor reporter in New Hampshire while awaiting extradition to Maine.

That reporter, Robert Hohler, refused to testify at Steeves' trial in Maine and was convicted of contempt of court. In 1987, he was given a six-month suspended sentence and a $2,500 fine.

Hohler, now a writer for the Globe, watched as Steeves went before the clemency board on Feb. 24.

Board chairman Richard Harburger told the Globe later that the board scheduled the clemency hearing not knowing about the earlier five killings. Steeves didn't have to disclose those in his application because he was never tried and convicted of them.

Lisa Marchese, chief of the state attorney general's criminal division, said her office was "vehemently opposed" to letting Steeves out of prison.

Since parole was abolished decades ago, Steeves' only hope is a pardon or commutation of his sentence from the governor. A decision is pending.