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Family of murdered St. Francis woman attends signing of law in her name

AUGUSTA, Maine — The parents of Amy Theriault, a young St. Francis woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2014, attended a ceremonial signing by Gov. Paul LePage in Augusta on Monday, June 25, of a law enacted to help other families of domestic violence murder victims seek justice. 

Maine legislators unanimously passed LD 449, An Act To Add Domestic Violence against the Victim as an Aggravating Factor in Sentencing for Murder, also known as “Amy’s Law,” in April.

State Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash sponsored the bill last year at the request of Amy’s mother, Barbara Theriault. He also attended Monday’s signing of Amy’s Law.

“(Amy’s murder) was a tremendous tragedy that I wish no one would have ever had to introduce a bill on,” he said.

Jesse Marquis shot and stabbed Amy Theriault, 31, a mother of two young daughters, on May 31, 2014, and then ran off into the woods behind the home. Police arrested him following a six-day manhunt. After a jury convicted him of murder, a Caribou Superior Court judge sentenced him in July 2016 to life in prison.

The Theriault family endured a harrowing two-year legal process during which they feared Marquis might be sentenced to less than life in prison and might possibly be released on probation after serving only 20 years.

A person convicted of murder in Maine must receive a prison sentence of not less than 25 years. When first introduced, the bill sought to impose a mandatory life sentence on anyone convicted of domestic violence homicide. Lawmakers amended it before passage, however, to allow judges during sentencing to assign special weight to murders that result from an act of domestic violence.

Among the factors to be given special weight under Amy’s Law are:

— That the victim is a child who had not in fact attained 6 years of age at the time the crime was committed;

— That the victim is a woman whom the convicted person knew or had reasonable cause to believe to be, in fact, pregnant at the time the crime was committed; and,

— That the victim is a family or household member as defined in Title 19-A, section 4002, subsection 4 who is a victim of domestic violence committed by the convicted person.

Barbara Theriault and her husband, Amy’s father, Ricky Theriault, attended Monday’s signing in Augusta.

“I could feel Amy’s presence with us,” Barbara Theriault said.

More than four years have passed since Amy’s death. Her daughters are now 16 and 11 years old. Amy Theriault will never have the joy of watching her children grow, and they have been forced to adapt to life without their mother.

“Both girls remind me of their mother,” Barbara Theriault said.

She added that Amy’s older daughter “has her smile and disposition.” She enjoys the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing, just as Amy did.

“She is going to take the CNA course like her mom did at that age,” Barbara Theriault said. “She is starting drivers education this summer.”

Amy’s youngest daughter has Amy’s blue eyes.

“She is a grampy’s girl and helps him with all the outside chores like her mom did,” Barbara Theriault said.

Amy’s oldest daughter recently celebrated a sweet-16 birthday party.  

“Amy would have loved it,” Barbara Theriault said.

She said she also wishes no other family would have to experience the pain and loss Marquis inflicted on her family when he stole Amy from them. She hopes that LD 449 will assist families in the search for justice if they have experienced the tragedy of burying a loved one murdered in an act of domestic violence.

“Thank you, Troy Jackson and Governor LePage, in being instrumental in passing Amy’s Law. This law will help families in their pursuit of justice,” she said.  “It is a great tribute to Amy. She may be deceased but her voice for justice can still be heard.”

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