State

18-year-old sentenced to 40 years for murder of Houlton man

A Houlton teenager who in May pleaded guilty to murder in connection with the 2015 killing of a 61-year-old Houlton man will spend the next 40 years in prison. 

Aroostook County Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II sentenced Samuel Geary, 18, on Monday to the maximum amount of time he could under a plea agreement that had been negotiated by the prosecutor and defense attorney when Geary pleaded guilty.

Geary was 16-years-old when he and Reginald Dobbins Jr., who was 18 at the time, murdered Keith Suitter in Suitter’s home on March 1, 2015. The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the victim testified at Dobbins’ murder trial that Suitter suffered 21 blunt-force trauma blows, mostly to the head, which appeared to have been inflicted by a hammer, and 10 stab wounds to the head and back.

Jurors found Dobbins guilty of murder at trial in June. He too was to be sentenced Monday, but that was postponed. No explanation was given and a new sentencing had not been rescheduled as of Monday afternoon.

During a bind-over hearing held in April 2016 to determine if he would be tried as a juvenile or an adult, Geary testified that after a day of drinking and using drugs, he and Dobbins went to Suitter’s home to rob him of drugs and money. After Dobbins had gotten into the home using the ruse that his vehicle had broken down, Geary said that Dobbins pulled a hammer out of his jacket and began striking him.

While Geary also had testified at that hearing that Dobbins had stabbed Suitter, he admitted to Stewart Monday that he stabbed Suitter with a knife that Dobbins had given him earlier that day.

“He [Suitter] was making an awful noise,” Geary said. “It is a noise I’ll never forget.”

Keith Suitter, 61, of Houlton. (Photo Courtesy of Maine State Police)

Thirteen members of the Suitter family were present, and each of five who addressed the judge asked for the maximum 40-year prison sentence for Geary.

Suitter’s sister, Donna McGillicuddy, told Stewart that her mind is “tortured” with thoughts of how her brother spent the last moments of his life.

“He had to die a very painful death because they (Geary and Dobbins) wanted more drugs and more money,” she said. “They went to bed that night with no remorse.”

She also made note of the ruse that Geary and Dobbins used to get into the house.

“He was going to help them and they killed him for his kindness,” she added.

Kristin Moore, Suitter’s daughter, spoke eloquently of the anger, confusion, pain and anguish she and her two other siblings feel now that their only remaining parent has died. She told the court that her father had always been there emotionally, physically and financially for them until he was suddenly ripped from their lives. She said that the loss has impacted her so deeply that she can no longer work full-time, has trouble sleeping and worries constantly about her family.

“A great injustice has been done,” she said. “At no point should Geary be free in society.”

Geary’s mother, Kimberly Drake, sobbed as she recounted a son who she said was always kind to small children and would throw horse races he was in so that competitors who weren’t as good as he was could win.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be here,” she said.

Geary’s attorney, Kris Culbertson, asked the judge to consider the defendant’s age at the time of the crime, and said that Geary was “very remorseful.”

Geary apologized for his role in the crime and told the Suitter family that what he had done was “unforgivable.”

“You have suffered a great loss because of me,” he said. “I feel really bad for the family and for the pain I caused.”

In pronouncing sentence, Stewart said that Geary and Dobbins had “targeted” the victim because “they believed he had drugs or money or both.”

“It was also clear that the victim experienced extreme, substantial suffering,” said Stewart. “Mr. Suitter was aware, even for some brief moment, that something bad was happening to him.”

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