BANGOR, Maine — Sandra Goodrich made eye contact Wednesday for the first time in months with the son who killed her husband as Perley Goodrich Jr. offered her and his sister a heartfelt apology.
Before Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who presided over the jury trial, imposed the sentence, Goodrich Jr. turned to face his mother and sister, Nancy Watson, for the first time since his arrest 18 months ago.
“To my mother, I want to say that I’m sorry I’ve caused you this pain in taking her husband away,” he said. “I want to say to my sister that I’m sorry in taking your dad away. I love and miss you both.”
Outside the courtroom, after her son was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but eight suspended, Sandra Goodrich, 65, of Newport told reporters that she needed to hear one more thing from her son.
“I want him to tell me that he’ll never hurt me again,” she said. “I’m very sad. I still love him, but it hurts so bad to know that he took his father’s life and destroyed his own.”
The women agreed that Goodrich Jr. could have contact with them when he is released in about six years. The time he has been in jail awaiting the trial is expected to be credited to his sentence.
“The sentence was merciful,” Sandra Goodrich told reporters outside the courthouse.
After serving his prison sentence, the Newport man will serve four years of probation.
Goodrich Jr., 46, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury on April 5 in the shooting death of Perley Goodrich Sr., 76, of Newport on Oct. 26, 2009.
Goodrich Jr. also was found guilty of aggravated assault in the beating of his mother. Anderson sentenced him Wednesday to six years for that offense, to be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.
The trial jurors on April 6 found Goodrich Jr. was criminally responsible for his actions. If the jury had found he was insane when he shot his father and pistol-whipped his mother, Goodrich Jr. would have been sent to Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta until he was deemed able to re-enter society rather than be sentenced to prison time.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who prosecuted the case, recommended that Goodrich Jr. serve 20 years in prison. Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor urged the judge to sentence his client to 15 years in prison with all but six to eight years suspended.
Anderson said that he was required to balance mitigating and aggravating factors in fashioning a sentence.
“The major aggravating circumstance is the impact of this crime on the victim and his family,” the judge said in handing down the sentence. “The major mitigating factor is what he was doing about his mental illness [in the days before the shooting].”
Testimony during Goodrich Jr.’s six-day trial showed that he had been diagnosed with mental illnesses that stretched back more than 20 years. Several witnesses, including his mother and mental health workers, testified that Goodrich Jr. virtually begged for help in the days leading up to the killing of his father. Specifically, he sought a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin, which Goodrich maintained worked for him for several years until he was taken off it in 2008 after marijuana was found in his system.
On Oct. 25, 2009, Sandra Goodrich returned home to find Perley Jr. with his bag packed and asking for a ride to the hospital. Goodrich Jr. was subsequently sent to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor but was released the next day on his own accord. That night he beat his mother with a pistol and then used that pistol to shoot his father to death.
He then ran from the home and hid in woods surrounding Newport for several days. He was captured after a waitress at a local restaurant called police to say Goodrich Jr. was inside.
Goodrich Jr. faced up to 30 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction. If he had been convicted of murder, he would have faced a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison.