March 16, 2010

Man who shot police officer gets 35 years

TOM BELL

— By

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Staff Photo by John Ewing: 20061120 Tuesday, November 21, 2006...Terrel Dubois at his indictment in Cumberland County Superior Court on charges including attempted murder resulting from a shootout with Portland and South Portland police officers.

Staff Writer

A man who was convicted of shooting a South Portland police officer was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison, which police say sends a strong message that violent criminals will pay a price if they turn their guns on law enforcement.

Terrel Dubois was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler for kidnapping, drug trafficking and attempted murder. Dubois was convicted in March of shooting officer Steve Connors on Oct. 11, 2006.

South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins said police were pleased by the sentence. ''It sends a message the courts and society are going to support enforcement efforts to maintain the rule of law in our society.'' he said.

''When crooks, thieves, hoodlums, thugs feel they are immune from the process and system and are willing to take on a police officer, that is not a good thing for society,'' Googins said. ''If they will take on the cops, they will take on anybody.''

The shooting happened as police closed in on Dubois at an apartment in South Portland to arrest him on a charge of kidnapping his former girlfriend. Dubois pulled a .25-caliber pistol out of a pocket and opened fire. Police shot back, hitting Dubois and wounding him.

Connors was hit in the hand, shoulder and chest, and another shot grazed his skull.

Portland police Sgt. Robert Doherty, who was in the apartment with Connors at the time, said in an interview that he initially thought that Connors had been fatally wounded in the head because there was so much blood.

Doherty told the judge Monday that police had tried several times to arrest Dubois by using more diplomatic measures. ''There is little diplomacy to be used against a man who picks up a gun and opens fire on the police,'' he said.

If police cannot do their jobs because of violence against them, he told the judge before the sentencing, then society as a whole will be in greater danger.

''It is my hope that the sentence levied against Mr. Dubois would provide peace of mind for police officers and their families that we will be protected by society and the courts when we encounter criminals who attempt to harm us,'' he said. The jury in Cumberland County Superior Court concluded that Dubois had intended to kill Connors, but found the defendant not guilty of attempted murder against Doherty.

Doherty was not injured in the exchange, but did return fire, wounding Dubois with one shot. Connors fired eight times and hit Dubois twice.

Before the sentencing, Dubois' attorney, Neale Duffett, read a letter from Dubois apologizing to Connors for his actions.

''I hope and pray that you will never have to go through this again,'' Dubois wrote. ''And I am sorry for the pain I have caused.''

Dubois, 24, got seven years for the kidnapping charge as part of an earlier plea agreement. In addition, Wheeler imposed a consecutive sentence of 25 years, with all but 18 years suspended, for attempted murder, plus 10 years for aggravated drug trafficking.

The aggregate total of the sentences is 35 years in state prison, of which Dubois will serve at least 30 years, according to a statement issued by Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson.

When Dubois is released from prison, he will be on probation for four years and could be sent back to prison for seven more years if he violates his probation conditions.

Assistant District Attorney Robert ''Bud'' Ellis, who argued for a slightly longer prison term, said he was ''not displeased'' with the sentence.

There is no parole in Maine, although Dubois could be released a few years early if he behaves well in prison.

Ellis said that seems doubtful, considering Dubois' behavior in the Cumberland County Jail while he was awaiting trial. Dubois was accused of stabbing another inmate with a pencil during a fight, and he overdosed on anti-psychotic medication.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com

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