A Milbridge man who, along with his wife, attacked a group of men with weapons while robbing a Trenton drug dealer was sentenced Thursday to serve eight years in prison. But if he gets his way, he will die before then using Maine’s death with dignity law.
Larry Smith, 52, was charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and robbery after he shot two men — one in the knees and the other in the back — when he entered Shelby Kleffman’s home and stole two safes out of her closet in December 2020. He has a prior felony criminal record.
He pleaded no contest to the charges and on Thursday received an overall sentence of 20 years behind bars, 12 of which are suspended, and 4 years of probation after he is released. If he violates his probation, he could be sent back to prison for another 12 years.
However it may not come to that. Smith has cancer, something that Steven Juskewitch, Smith’s attorney, said was not considered a factor at his sentencing. Nevertheless, Smith is seeking to take advantage of Maine’s death with dignity law while serving his prison sentence and to die by taking a lethal physician-prescribed cocktail of drugs, according to an interview with the Ellsworth American weekly newspaper. It’s stage 2 throat cancer, he said
The death with dignity law, which Maine adopted in 2019, is aimed at allowing adults with a terminal illness who are deemed mentally competent to obtain life-ending medication from a doctor. If allowed, this will be the first time an inmate has accessed the right, Anna Black, a spokesperson for the state Department of Corrections, told the Ellsworth American.
Also, though Smith pleaded no contest, Juskewitch said Thursday afternoon that he believed the main instigator in the incident was Smith’s wife, Sherry Smith, and that his client has said he was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the robbery.
“He thought he was borrowing gas money from friends and was going to go meet up with aliens on a mountain in Dedham,” Juskewitch said.
Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster declined to comment on Larry Smith’s sentence, health or his desire to utilize the physician-assisted suicide law.
Sherry Smith, 50, was sentenced in November to an overall sentence of 15 years with all but 8 years suspended and 4 years of probation after she is released.
Kleffman, the woman whose house the Smiths robbed, later was charged with drug trafficking by the FBI and then pleaded guilty in federal court in Massachusetts. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2022.
On the night of Dec. 20, 2020, the Smiths entered Kleffman’s home in Trenton and confronted men who were inside. Kleffman was not home at the time. Larry Smith shot and injured two men and Sherry Smith stabbed a third man before they fled the house with two safes that contained between $5,000 and $10,000 each, according to police.
The Smiths were arrested roughly an hour later after they crashed their car in Holden.
Prior to the robbery, in March 2000, Larry Smith was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended and six years of probation for his role in a burglary and arson that destroyed a Holden pizzeria in August 1999.