FARMINGTON – Ryan J. Ouimet pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday in the shooting death of a college friend in Farmington and will serve 20 months in prison for his role in the tragic killing.

Justice Michaela Murphy handed down the sentence in Franklin County Superior Court after nearly two hours of emotional testimony by family and friends of Andrew Holland, the 23-year-old from Cape Elizabeth killed in the shooting.

Ouimet, 24, of Colts Neck, N.J., was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but 20 months suspended as part of a plea deal accepted by the court.

He will serve the prison time in Maine, and could face the full 10-year sentence if he violates conditions of a four-year probation included in the plea agreement.

Holland’s family and friends, as well as the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, called on the court to send a message about the reckless or negligent use of firearms.

The shooting happened May 31 inside an apartment, just blocks from the University of Maine at Farmington, where the two friends had graduated earlier that month.

Another UMF graduate, Caroline Halloran, 23, of Acton, Mass., was inside the apartment during the shooting about 9:30 p.m., Benson said.

The three best friends smoked marijuana shortly before the shooting. Halloran told police that Ouimet was putting the cartridge into the semi-automatic handgun and popping it out repeatedly, with Holland doing the same with the handgun and cartridge, Benson said.

Halloran told police that Ouimet was tossing the gun between his hands when it went off and shot Holland. Ouimet told police that he had been dancing to music when the gun fired.

Benson said the most important factors of the case were that reckless negligence and the use of mind-altering drugs were involved in a death caused by a firearm.

Murphy called it an extraordinary case because the victim’s family, some of whom were in the courtroom, agreed to the plea deal and sentencing conditions. She said Oiumet also showed genuine remorse and took responsibility for his actions.

Ouimet made a tearful statement to the court, apologizing to the Holland family for his actions.

“I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am,” he said.

The plea deal prohibits Ouimet from using alcohol or illegal drugs, among other conditions, during his probation.

He is required to pay up to $15,000 in restitution to the Holland family for funeral costs and other medical expenses. He also has to serve 100 hours of community service, lecturing at schools about the dangers of mixing alcohol and drugs with firearms, according to Murphy.

Before the sentencing, Ward Holland, Andrew’s father, held up two Boston Red Sox tickets for the game the father and son planned to attend June 1, the day after the shooting.

After going to bed early, Ward Holland planned to wake up early for the trip, but instead got a knock on the door from police telling him his son had been shot and killed.

Ward Holland was overcome when he shared the hurt of losing his son.

“Andrew is my only son. There is no one left to carry on the Holland name. This cuts me to the core of my existence,” he said.

The father said he understood Ouimet and his son were best friends who shared many plans for the future. Ouimet began to cry when the father talked of the friendship and dreams the two young men shared.

Lynne Holland, Andrew’s mother, described her son’s passion and enthusiasm for everything he did in life, from his love of reading and politics to the way he let family and friends know he loved them.

“He really knew how to hug, and he wasn’t ashamed to do it,” she said. “He was so positive and happy.”

Lynne Holland said her goal has become to promote gun safety to honor her son’s dreams of changing the world.

“I believe this is Andrew’s legacy,” she said.

Flanked by her mother and father, Carolyn Holland, Andrew’s only sibling, relived for the court the night her brother died.

She went to bed after talking with her brother on the phone, and they planned to see each other in the morning; but the flash of police lights and “howls of my father” woke her a couple hours later, she said.

“There are no words to describe the terror and emotions of that night,” she said.

Carolyn then shared stories about growing up with her protective and loving older brother, who held her hand when they walked along the street as children and protected her from the pitfalls of high school after he left for college.

Since losing her brother, Carolyn has struggled with the daily reminders of his death. She started to take sign language classes as a sophomore at University of Rochester and learned the sign for “I have a brother” but not for “an only child,” she said.

She motioned with her hands to show what the sign is for an only child.

“It’s just me,” she said.

Carolyn Holland reeled off a list of milestones that she will never get to share with her brother, asking the court to think about the missed moments when handing down a sentence.

“The world has lost a valuable young man,” she said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer David Robinson can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

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