Jackson bill would stiffen penalties for domestic violence slayings

Posted: March 01, 2017 | Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Senator Jackson

Bill would impose automatic life sentence to defendants who kill in act of domestic violence

AUGUSTA — Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, presented a bill on Wednesday that would toughen the sentencing of domestic violence abusers convicted of murder.

The bill — LD 449. An Act Regarding Imposition of an Automatic Life Sentence in the Case of Domestic Abuse Resulting in Murder — would require an automatic life sentence for a defendant convicted of a murder perpetrated as an act of domestic abuse.

“The thought that someone with a history of domestic violence can murder their partner, and then possibly live a free life someday, is unimaginable and completely unacceptable,” said Sen. Jackson. “No family should have to live with this scenario. Unfortunately it is possible, and likely to happen, under current law. We must change that.”

Jackson presented the bill during a public hearing before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. He was joined in support by Barbara Theriault, whose daughter, Amy Theriault of St. Francis, was shot and stabbed to death by her longtime boyfriend in 2014.

Theriault has since learned that although the murderer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, a plea deal is in the works that could reduce the sentence to 40 years with additional time to be earned for good behavior. Stunned by the possibility of her daughter’s murderer being released, Theriault encouraged Sen. Jackson to sponsor the bill.

“I will never be free from this horrendous crime. I live it every day,” Theriault said. “Amy is gone. Her children are motherless. And we have to contend that this monster has the possibility of being free to terrorize our family again. This is what has lead us to fight for justice.”

A committee work session on the bill has been scheduled for March 8.