Marlee Johnston's dad helps write law for blended sentencing

Victim’s dad helps craft bill requiring blended sentences:

Ted Johnston is the father of Marlee Johnston. When Marlee was 14 she was bludgeoned to death with an aluminum baseball bat by 14-year-old Patrick Armstrong. Armstrong allegedly admitted to cellmates that he enjoyed every minute of it. So it comes as something of a surprise that Ted Johnston has helped write legislation that would allow juveniles convicted as adults to spend part of their sentence in a juvenile facility prior to turning 18.

Ted Johnston said it’s wrong for juveniles who have committed even the most despicable crimes to be placed in adult prisons. He has been working on legislation drafted by the Attorney General’s Office that would require blended sentences for the youngest offenders.

Remembering his daughter Marlee as kind and compassionate, Johnston said he is trying to pay homage to that part of her through his own actions.

“We don’t need to be abandoning people _ even when they did something as horrible as Patrick (Armstrong) did,” Johnston said, referring to Marlee’s killer.

“I don’t think that’s right,” Johnston said. “I know Marlee wouldn’t either, so to honor her memory we had to make a change.”

Under the bill that Johnston helped develop, those under 16 who are tried and convicted as adults would be placed in juvenile facilities until they turn 18, and only then be transferred to adult prisons to complete their sentences.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said the legislation addresses the rare circumstance of someone very young committing a very serious offense.

“The dilemma we faced with Armstrong was we had a very young victim, and very young suspect who was also 14, who committed a horrendous act and very serious crime,” Stokes said.

Maybe in Maine it’s rare but just by reading this site you can see that it’s not so rare in other places.

Anyway I have no problem with juveniles spending part of their sentences in a juvenile facility until they turn 18. However don’t confuse compassion for weakness. I still fully endorse that juveniles that commit such horrendous acts like the brutal murder of Marlee Johnston still need to be tried as adults.

Patrick Armstrong pleads guilty to manslaughter

Judge Accepts Plea Deal In Armstrong Case:

It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything about Patrick Armstrong. The news out of Maine hasn’t been exactly forthcoming. With this story we get a year’s worth of news all at once.

For those of you who may have forgotten Patrick Armstrong was 14 at the time he was arrested for the murder of 14-year-old Marlee Johnston. During the investigation police found a website made by Armstrong where he professed his admiration for serial killers and the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Today Patrick Armstrong pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In return for his plea he’ll serve 25 years with 9 years suspended.

Tell me if this sounds like manslaughter to you…

Armstrong is accused of brutally beating 14-year-old Marlee Johnston to death. In testimony Friday in Augusta, a state police detective testified Johnston was beaten repeatedly on the head with an aluminum baseball bat. The detective also said Armstrong told a fellow inmate that he “loved every minute of it.”

Detective Adam Kelley testified Johnston went to Armstrong’s house to see if she wanted him to join her in walking her dogs. They were neighbors in the town of Fayette.

So Marlee Johnston befriends Patrick Armstrong and in return he bludgeoned her to death. And now he’ll be out when he’s 30, possibly sooner.

It could be that the Johnston family may just want to put it all behind them. If that’s true I respect them for that. However in my opinion not enough justice was served.

Prophetic Patrick

Capt. Fantastic over at The Cellar found a plethora of information about Patrick Armstrong, the 14-year-old accused of killing Marlee Johnston.

CF found a LiveJournal by an alleged friend of Patrick Armstrong. It seems like they were writing some kind of zombie story together. Sound familiar?

Anyway, check out this entry that was allegedly written by Patrick Armstrong…

This is also by Patrick.

There would be no heroic moment for (name removed, see update below). She did not get a chance to fight the good fight against the zombies. For the zombie of Patrick had laid in wait in their pond, until the moment was just right, at which point he thrust out one hand, grabbed (name removed) by the ankle, and pulled her into the water. She died a soggy death, and was quickly forgotten.

Kind of eerily prophetic considering Marlee Johnston’s body was found in a pond.

CF also found that Patrick Armstrong’s LiveJournal used the screen name “saintmaggot”. The LJ has since been deleted but CF was able to find Armstrong’s interests through LJVIZ where some of his interests listed are Columbine, Satanism, serial killers, Anton Lavey, deviant behavior, and shotguns. And this is the kid that his defense attorney says is well-adjusted.

If you want to see more of the “zombie story” you can go here, here, here, and here.

Again a huge TOF to Capt. Fantastic.

UPDATE: I had to remove the name of one of the characters in the zombie because it turns out it’s the name of an actual person. Thanks again to CF for the info. Both CF and I are now thinking could it have been possible that he was planning on killing this other person instead of Marlee?

Defense attorneys say the stupidest things II

Lawyer asks for delay on freeing suspect:

The ever funny defense attorney Walter McKee strikes again. To refresh your memory McKee is representing 14-year-old Patrick Armstrong who is accused of killing 14-year-old Marlee Johnston. Some more gems from Mr. McKee…

McKee said Thursday that he has received new information from the investigation into Johnston’s death, and about Armstrong’s character, that could affect the decision on whether Armstrong should be returned to his parents’ care.

McKee said Armstrong has no criminal record and should be released to his parents’ custody while the case moves through the system. In the days since his arrest, a more troubling picture of Armstrong has emerged, as Web sites believed to have been produced by Armstrong profess his admiration for the Columbine school shooters and a notorious serial killer.

McKee downplayed the significance of the material on Thursday.

“There are a lot of things that 14-year-olds say to other kids that would be disturbing if you took it out of context,” he said.

Out of context? Are you kidding me? How is claiming Columbine killer Eric Harris as your hero considered out of context? The thought process of criminal defense attorneys astounds me sometimes. And they went to law school to learn how to come up with this crap.

Some not so funny stuff came out of this article too…

Armstrong will face different penalties depending on whether he is charged as a juvenile or an adult. Because he is younger than 18, he could be committed to a juvenile detention center until his 21st birthday. If convicted as an adult, he would face 25 years to life in prison.

The judge would consider the seriousness of the crime, as well as the likelihood that Armstrong would benefit from treatment. In Maine, no one has been tried as an adult in the last 40 years for a crime committed when they were 14. Several defendants have been charged as adults for crimes committed when they were 15.

Let’s hope Maine decides to end the streak. 7 years in juvenile detention is not nearly enough for a killer.

Defense attorneys say the stupidest things

Attorney: Suspect had normal upbringing:

Defense attorneys continue to make me chuckle. Take, for instance, defense attorney Walter McKee. He’s representing 14-year-old Patrick Armstrong of Fayette, Maine, who is charged in the murder of 14-year-old Marlee Johnston. He’s trying to portray Armstrong as your average American boy next door…

The boy charged last week with killing a 14-year-old girl grew up with pets, laughed as he sat on a sled and learned to ride a horse.

Family photographs supplied by defense attorney Walter McKee show typical childhood poses of Patrick Armstrong, now 14, of Fayette, who was arrested in the Nov. 26 death of Marlee Johnston, a neighbor.

“People have seen a picture of him going to court and made incredible judgments about who he is and what he did. There’s far more to it than that,” McKee said. “He led a very normal, small-town life, nothing unique or out of the ordinary or disturbing. He was just a boy growing up in central Maine. He didn’t torture animals.

“Children at 14 years old, young teenagers, often have conflict with their parents. They think bad things and they say bad things; it doesn’t mean they’re going to do it,” said McKee. “We wouldn’t expect they would act on those things. He’s a 14-year-old, not a 24-year-old.”

Let me refresh your memory on what this all American boy allegedly said on his website

“I hate this society and I hate most people within it,” the site reads. In a list of general interests, the site mentions skateboarding, hanging out with friends, serial killers and Columbine High School, among others. A list of heroes mentions Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the 1999 Columbine shootings in Colorado.

“I am very interested in serial killers and school shootings and I find it hilarious that this fact bothers people,”

Here’s what McKee said about that…

“These are things people say off the cuff thinking it’s funny. When you’re 14, you don’t realize how inappropriate it is when you say certain things,” said McKee.

No, I think when you list serial killers as your heroes even at the age of 14 you know how inappropriate it is. It galls me to see people like this list killers as their heroes. When I was a kid the first serial killings I remember hearing about on the news were the Son of Sam killings. I couldn’t imagine, even at that age, going around saying, “Yeah, David Berkowitz is cool. He’s my hero. I want to be just like him.”

But this was the funniest thing of all…

He also said he plans to ask that Armstrong be released in the custody of his parents.

He can’t be serious, can he? Stay tuned and I guess we’ll find out together.

Why is this even a question?

Juvenile or adult? Armstrong trial forces difficult decision:

This is an editorial about whether or not Patrick Armstrong, the 14-year-old accused of killing 14-year-old Marlee Johnston from Fayette, Maine, should be tried as an adult or not. The editorial meanders around for a bit but finally gets to its point…

Nothing society can do is a fair exchange for what was done to Marlee, whom all describe as vibrant, joyful, caring and kind. Nothing can return her to her family and friends or replace the life she would have lived.

That would be equally true if her killer were imprisoned for the rest of his life.

The right answer balances many needs: the need for society to be protected from people of any age who pose a danger, the need to punish the guilty, the need to rehabilitate those who commit crimes.

The juvenile justice system is based on the theory that children who commit even the worst crimes can grow into productive adults. That is clearly more true of younger lawbreakers than older ones.

Considering his age, even if he is convicted as an adult, Armstrong is very likely to be released from prison while still a young man. That would make treatment and rehabilitation at least as important as punishment. That treatment is more likely at a juvenile detention facility than at a state prison.

It is difficult to look past the anger and grief we all feel at Marlee Johnston’s death, to move beyond the need for vengeance, but the prosecutors and judge who deal with this case must do so.

We recognize that not all the facts of this case have been disclosed. It is unlikely, but possible, that prosecutors will find information or evidence that would argue against keeping the case in juvenile court.

Those unlikely circumstances would have to be compelling to overcome the fact that Patrick Armstrong is a boy, not a man.

The author of this editorial is misguided at best.

Patrick Armstrong

Neighbor accused

Judge orders youth held in girl’s murder:

14-year-old Marlee Johnson from Maine was murdered last weekend. One Patrick Armstrong, also 14, is being held in her murder. The cause of death and motive for the killing have not been released yet. It has also not been decided on whether or not to try him as an adult. Why my interest in this particular case you ask. I’ll show you…

Hours after the killing, police were looking into a personal Web site believed to be Armstrong’s, a source close to the investigation said.

The name, birthdate and other personal details match Armstrong exactly, though authorities have not confirmed that Armstrong is the author of the content. Pages downloaded from the site were circulating among Kents Hill School students early this week.

The site could be interpreted as the ramblings of a troubled individual, or someone who enjoyed sharing very dark humor with friends given access to the site.

“I hate this society and I hate most people within it,” the site reads. In a list of general interests, the site mentions skateboarding, hanging out with friends, serial killers and Columbine High School, among others. A list of heroes mentions Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the 1999 Columbine shootings in Colorado.

And from the second article…

McKee said that Armstrong, who has been home-schooled his entire life, has no criminal history. But he said he was aware that police are examining a personal Internet Web site that includes some troubling references. The site is believed to be Armstrong’s and, according to sources, became part of the investigation shortly after the killing.

On the private site, which was accessible to a small circle of friends, the author identified himself as “offensive” and hostile. Visitors who have posted comments on the site include someone claiming to be Armstrong’s sister.

The site lists people the author “hates,” including “moronic jocks,” “bullies,” “old people,” and “little kids.”

“I am very interested in serial killers and school shootings and I find it hilarious that this fact bothers people,” the author wrote. “I laugh at people, including myself, who get hurt, so if you ever see me lying on the ground next to my skateboard laughing, I’m probably also bleeding.”

The site believed to be Armstrong’s lists Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, as a hero.

The kid is a mutant plain and simple. Another Harris and Klebold worshipper that decided to follow in their cowardly footsteps.

As usual, we have a very funny defense attorney…

Armstrong’s attorney, Walter McKee, said he will argue for his client to be released to his parents’ custody while the case moves through the court system.

“He should be released to his mom,” McKee said. “He’s 14 years old, he’s never spent more than two nights away from home. He’s been there ever since he was a baby.

“I know that’s difficult for everybody because it’s a small community, but it’s really appropriate with a boy that age,” McKee said.

Which part about “He killed a girl” doesn’t he get? Killers don’t get to go home to mommy.

More yuks from Mr. McKee…

McKee made clear that his first job would be to keep Armstrong in the juvenile system. He said an adult punishment would be wrong for such a young person.

“I think it’s scary,” McKee said. “It’s virtually unprecedented in the state of Maine. This means somebody 15 years old sitting in a corner of the Maine State Prison in Warren, and that’s just unheard of.”

If an adult punishment is so wrong for a young person how do you think he feels about a 14-year-old girl who received an unsolicited death penalty? No trial, no appeal, no last meal, just death. And I’m supposed to feel sorry for a murderer that sits in state prison? I don’t think so. I don’t care about his age. He was old enough to allegedly make the decision to kill Marlee Johnston then he’s old enough to spend the rest of his life in jail.

And once again this should serve as a warning to parents about their kid’s internet activities. Don’t believe me? How about this guy?…

Today’s teenagers use the Internet to record their deepest feelings the way people once used private journals, said Dr. Andy Hinkins, the residency training director in child and adolescent psychiatry at Maine Medical Center and Spring Harbor Hospital.

Whether the medium is the Web or a diary, the writer may hope that someone will find the document and do something about it, he said.

“They can provide a psychological profile of the child,” Hinkins said. “It behooves us to be vigilant and take them seriously. It is not a normal part of adolescence to be writing such dark things.”

Hinkins said he knows of no study that looked at what percentage of teenagers act out violent fantasies in their writing. But after the Columbine school shootings, in which the killers left disturbing letters and journals, families should not ignore them, he said.

“I would certainly talk to the child about it,” he said. “And it would be helpful to have a mental health professional work with the family.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

My prayers and condolences go out to the friends and family of Marlee Johnson.

A huge nod to The Cellar.