PORTLAND – William Hanaman was so emotional Thursday in Cumberland County Superior Court that when a judge gave him a chance to speak before being sentenced for murder, the hearing had to be recessed so he could compose himself.

When the session resumed, Hanaman addressed Marion Shea’s family and, his voice cracking repeatedly, expressed his sorrow and asked for forgiveness.

But when it came to taking responsibility for stabbing his girlfriend 17 times in November 2009, Hanaman’s emotions took him only so far.

“It was not in my heart to take her life,” he said. “She was doing a good enough job destroying her life. She didn’t need me.”

That failure to accept responsibility and Hanaman’s insistence that he “blacked out” and can’t remember the fatal altercation were the main reasons cited by Justice Thomas D. Warren for a prison sentence of 40 years.

For Hanaman, who is 53 and in poor health, 40 years is “an effective life sentence,” said his lawyer, Robert Levine. When the sentence was announced, Hanaman had his head down and didn’t appear to react.

The sentence satisfied Shea’s relatives, who said they lost someone who tried to stay connected to her siblings, five children and three grandchildren despite struggling with drug abuse for years.

Police said the incident began on Nov. 10, 2009. Hanaman claimed he was just driving around the city’s West End, looking at the buildings, when he encountered Shea.

Although he was prohibited from contacting Shea under a bail condition from a domestic violence charge the month before, Hanaman persuaded her to go with him to his apartment on Ocean Avenue.

“He was stalking her,” Stephen Shea, the victim’s brother, said in court.

At his apartment, Hanaman said, they talked about breaking up and argued over Shea’s drug use. Hanaman said that at one point he saw “a shiny object” in Shea’s hand, assumed it was a knife and wrestled it away from her.

Then, he said, he blacked out. Prosecutors said he stabbed Shea 17 times, cleaned up his apartment, left to buy liquor, returned to the apartment, wrote a suicide note and took an overdose of pills.

“It was the ultimate act of domestic violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who prosecuted the case and asked Warren to sentence Hanaman to 35 to 40 years.

Levine said it was, instead, “an act of impulse,” and asked for the minimum sentence, 25 years.

Warren said Hanaman’s crime did not meet the conditions for a life sentence, such as premeditation or killing a police officer.

The judge said there were sound arguments for leniency in sentencing, including a history of childhood abuse that Hanaman suffered at the hands of his mother and a foster parent. But he also has a criminal history that includes violent acts, such as an assault on his young child in 1983 and a conviction for criminal threatening in 2000.

Warren said he didn’t buy the “shiny object” argument, because there would have been no reason at that point for Shea to have a knife. And Hanaman’s repeated stabbing of Shea negated the self-defense argument he used in the trial before a jury convicted him in December.

Before the sentencing, Levine sought a new trial. He argued that Hanaman was provoked and then reacted out of anger or fear. If the trial judge had instructed jurors that they could consider such a scenario, Levine said, they might still have found Hanaman guilty, but of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Levine said he plans to appeal the sentence and will argue that the jury should have been given different instructions.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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