Saturday, March 15, 2014
AUGUSTA — A man convicted in the 2007 slayings of his father and his former girlfriend has lost his bid for a new trial.
convicted killer: Maine State Police Detective Dean Jackson escorts John A. Okie. into the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday in Wiscasset. Okie has been convicted with the killing of Alexandra Mills, 19, at her home in Wayne, and the stabbing death of his father, John S. Okie Sr., both in July 2007.
Staff file photo by Andy Molloy
John A. Okie, 27, formerly of Newcastle, had claimed his attorney, Peter DeTroy, failed to provide an adequate defense during an eight-day jury trial in Kennebec County Superior Court. On Thursday, a judge in that same court disagreed with Okie’s claim.
In a written order, Justice Michaela Murphy said DeTroy provided an adequate defense and made reasonable decisions about when to file objections during the trial and about whom to call as witnesses. At the trial, Okie pleaded not criminally responsible to both murder charges.
For Okie, Murphy’s ruling was another loss in his attempts to overturn his convictions and to seek a lesser sentence. Okie, who had been in custody since his arrest in July 2007, is serving two consecutive 30-year terms at Maine State Prison in Warren.
Okie, through attorney George Hess, argued for post-conviction review relief on four different grounds at a hearing on July 23, 2013, with a number of witnesses testifying, including Okie’s mother, Karen.
Okie was convicted of the July 10, 2007, bludgeoning death in Wayne of Alexandra “Aleigh” Mills, 19, a former girlfriend and classmate at Kents Hill School; and of the July 16, 2007, stabbing death of his father, John S. Okie Sr., 59, in the kitchen at the Okie family home in Newcastle.
“We are very pleased and not surprised with the decision, and we only hope that this matter is finally closed so the Mills family can get some measure of closure,” said Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who represented the state.
Macomber said that while Okie has lost in his petition for post-conviction review, he could appeal Murphy’s decision to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which might decline to hear it. From there, Okie’s only recourse would be to the federal court system.
In his written memo, Hess argued that the trial prosecutor attempted to improperly sway the jury. “The prosecutor describes the crime scenes in graphic and lurid terms.” Hess said. “He appears to be describing a gruesome scene in a crime novel rather than dispassionately and objectively reviewing the evidence that the state intended to produce at trial.”
In his opening statement to jurors, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson described an early morning visit by Okie to Mills” and a “ruckus” at the rear of the Mills’ home where Okie beat Mills about the face, and after the banister broke as she fled down the stairs, he beat her with the broken railing “until she lay on the floor completely motionless.”
Benson also described to jurors the father’s slaying six days later following an argument with Okie: “You would have seen John A. Okie pull out a knife, stick it into the belly of his father and literally disembowel him,” Benson said.
The trial result, Hess said, also was affected by the defense attorney’s the failure to call a psychiatrist who had treated Okie previously as well as some longtime friends. Hess said that information would have supported the insanity defense.
Hess did not respond to a telephone message left Monday seeking comment on the decision.
Kents Hill School, which hosts an annual Aleigh Mills Concert Series that supports a scholarship in Mills’ name, conveyed a request for an interview to the Mills family; however, they declined to respond to the news that Okie had lost in his effort to get a new trial.
Okie previously lost at the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in his appeals of both his convictions and his sentence.Betty Adams — email@example.com