Judge sentences Massachusetts man to 35 years for County murder
HOULTON, Maine — A superior court justice sentenced a Massachusetts man Wednesday morning to 35 years in prison for robbing and killing an Oakfield man more than two years ago. In the afternoon, the justice sentenced another Massachusetts man charged in connection with the crime to serve just under 5 years.
An Aroostook County Superior Court jury found Marcus Asante, 23, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, guilty in November 2018 of killing Douglas Morin Jr., 31, on Oct. 16, 2016, after an argument broke out over a drug deal.
Prosecutors maintained that Asante shot Morin nine times, and left him to die of head and neck wounds as he sat in his Lincoln Town Car on the PD Road in Sherman.
Justice Harold Stewart II on Wednesday sentenced Asante to 35 years in prison on the charge of murder and 20 years on the robbery charge, with the sentences to be served concurrently.
Police also charged Darin Goulding, 29, and Tia Leigh Ludwick, 24, both of Leominster, Massachusetts, who were in the car at the time of the murder and robbery.
Ludwick pleaded guilty in February 2018 to murder and robbery, and was sentenced last April to 17 years in prison.
According to Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, Ludwick, who was Morin’s cousin, had contacted Morin about buying 10 pounds of marijuana from him.
Goulding testified at Asante’s trial that the trio planned from the start to rob Morin when they met with him on the rural woods road to complete the transaction. He said that while the group was inside Morin’s car, Morin pulled out his marijuana and asked for payment. It was then, Goulding said, that Ludwick, who was in the front passenger’s seat, grabbed the bag and Morin, who was in the driver’s seat, began tugging it back. He said that he saw Morin brandish a gun and that Asante, who was sitting in the back seat behind Morin, also had a gun and began firing.
A victim advocate read an impact statement Wednesday morning for members of the Morin family who said that Douglas Morin Jr. was a huge part of their lives. They said he had decided to sell the marijuana because he wanted more money to “spoil them at Christmas.” They said that they are left with a “pain that never fades” now that he is gone, and that “his life was taken due to someone else’s irresponsible actions.”
Before the sentence was handed down, Alsop sought 40 years of prison time for Asante.
Defense Attorney Brian Kelley countered that Justice Stewart should sentence Asante as an accomplice to the crime, as Goulding’s testimony wasn’t trustworthy. Kelley said that Asante was an only child who had a young daughter. He added that the crime was committed by “three young kids who weren’t thinking clearly.”
Asante’s uncle, who did not give his full name, also asked the judge for leniency. He said that Asante was a good person who went down the wrong path.
Stewart said he had to weigh the impact of Morin’s death on his family, as well as the gravity of the crime and Asante’s lack of a criminal record up until the murder and robbery. He found that the Morin family was profoundly impacted by the loss of their son and brother, and added that Asante had not taken responsibility for his actions.
Morin’s father said after the sentencing that he was “as happy as he could be” with the sentence.
“I feel bad for [Asante’s] family, too,” he said. “Both of us have lost a son, in a sense. But it is harder for us.”
In a separate session Wednesday afternoon, Stewart sentenced Goulding to 15 years in prison with all but four years and 239 days suspended for robbery. That time is in addition to what Goulding already has served since he pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2018. Prosecutors dismissed a felony murder charge against him for his testimony against Asante. Stewart also ordered Goulding to serve four years of probation after he gets out of prison.
A teary eyed Goulding apologized to the Morin family prior to his sentencing, telling them that he never meant for Morin to get killed and that he is extremely remorseful. Goulding’s grandmother, step-father, mother and young son were in courtroom, and the family asked for leniency for Goulding, who had been working and going to school to be a personal fitness trainer prior to the crime. They assured Stewart that once released from prison, Goulding would move back in with family in Massachusetts and his employer had assured him that he would hold his job open for him.
Stewart agreed that Goulding was remorseful and that he was a strong candidate for rehabilitation, but he also noted that he had “ample time” to decide not to participate in the robbery as he was riding in the car that transported the three participants to Maine from Massachusetts..
“At any point, you could have asked to get out of that car or asked them to turn around and drive back south,” Stewart told Goulding. “But you didn’t.”