A Millinocket man will serve 5½ years behind bars for the manslaughter of a 6-month-old boy more than four years ago.
Jessee Mackin, 36, was found guilty of manslaughter in May in the death of 6-month-old Larry Earl Lord on May 7, 2015. He was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison with all but 5½ years suspended, followed by four years of probation.
The suspended sentence means that if Mackin violates the terms of his probation following his release, he could be sent back to prison for the remainder of his full sentence.
“There is no evidence of the actual act,” Superior Court Justice William Anderson said. “But [Mackin] committed the crime and the evidence is overwhelming that he did.”
Anderson said he considered the age of the child, the severity of the injury and the absence of a pattern of abuse before the baby’s death in deciding on the sentence. Mackin has a criminal record, but the other crimes on his record occurred more than a decade ago, Anderson said.
Larry was born Oct. 24, 2014, in Houlton to Anthony Lord and Jamie Clark. According to the Maine attorney general’s office, the cause of his death was bleeding in his brain and a fractured skull.
He was taken to the hospital after the injury and remained there for two days before his mother took him off life support.
“While the child was in the hospital, it is a fact that Mr. Mackin was on the cellphone making a commercial transaction,” Anderson said, citing this behavior while the baby was dying as “difficult to fathom.” He said this was a major factor in the sentencing decision.
There was no testimony during Mackin’s trial on how the baby’s skull was fractured, but Anderson found Mackin was responsible because he was the only person with his girlfriend’s child when he was stricken.
Mackin chose not to make a statement at the sentencing.
Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin recommended a 15-year sentence for Mackin, with all but eight years suspended and four years of probation.
“The nature of the seriousness of the conduct in this case warrants a basic sentence of 12 years,” Robbin said. “There was something we seldom see in baby death cases: a complex fracture on the back of his skull.”
In April testimony, Dr. Clare Bryce, former deputy medical examiner in Maine, said that the baby died from a type of fracture that is typically seen in falls from high places or motor vehicle accidents.
The baby’s grandmother, Noel Corder, and aunt and uncle, Scott and Tiffany McLaughlin, asked the judge to consider the maximum manslaughter sentence of 30 years.
After hearing about her grandson’s injury, Corder flew in from Florida and was in the room at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center when the 6-month-old died.
“The murderer of my grandson had the nerve to sit there and hold the baby that he had stolen the life from,” she said. “I was left with a cold, lifeless grandson.”
Clark, who was living with Mackin at the time of her son’s death, did not include a sentencing recommendation in her statement.
“I don’t get to wake up from this nightmare that I’ve been living for almost five years now,” she said. “In my heart I know Mr. Mackin loved Larry and he still does. I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for that.”
Robbin, who prosecuted the case, said Clark was essentially “questioning the ultimate verdict.”
“It’s an absolute tragedy that the mother of baby Larry Lord still questions how her son got that fracture on the back of his head when the medical experts — not just one doctor — all agreed and told you that the only person that could have caused that fracture was the person who had custody of the baby, Jessee Mackin,” Robbin said.
The baby’s father, who is serving a life sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren for killing two people and injuring three others two months after his son’s death, also called for the maximum manslaughter sentence for Mackin.
After Anthony Lord read his statement via video, Mackin’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Augusta, expressed a new concern for the judge to consider.
“It is my concern for Jessee that no matter where the Department of Corrections might send him within that system, Mr. Lord will either himself be there or have ‘friends’ who will be there,” Smith said. “No matter how the Department of Corrections chooses to manage this, isolation or deportation, Jessee will be impacted more than the average inmate.”
Smith recommended a five-year-sentence with all but three years suspended.
After the sentencing, Mackin took off his blue shirt and tie. He waved to his friends and family, and as they left the courtroom sobbing, he stayed behind to be escorted to the holding area in a green T-shirt.
Just after the Penobscot County Sheriff’s van took him to be processed, Clark came out of the courthouse with her daughter and Corder. While Corder said she thought Mackin’s sentence was shorter than she was hoping for, Clark was torn.
Her daughter held on to her, crying. “Are they going to put him in with Anthony?” she asked victim advocate Renee Ordway, who was standing next to her.
Ordway said Clark would be able to check which prison Mackin would be sent to online. Clark then walked away from the courthouse holding her daughter’s hand.