March 12, 2010

Okie given 60 years for 'unfathomable' killingsCONTINUED FROM THE FRONT PAGE


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Staff photo by Joe Phelan Tim and Donna Mills, parents of the late Alexandra "Aleigh" Mills, 19, hold hands during the sentencing hearing of their daughters convicted killer John A. Okie on Friday morning in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Joe Phelan

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Staff photo by Joe Phelan John A. Okie is led back to the Kennebec County jail after hearing that he will spend 60 years in prison for the July 2007 murders of Alexandra "Aleigh" Mills, 19, and his father John S. Okie, 59. Okie will serve two, 30-year terms, Judge Joseph Jabar decided this morning in Augusta.

Joe Phelan

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — John A. Okie will spend at least 50 years behind bars for bludgeoning his former girlfriend to death and killing his father.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson argued successfully Friday for consecutive sentences for Okie, who killed Alexandra ''Aleigh'' Mills, 19, in her family's Wayne home on July 10, 2007. Six days later, Okie killed his father, John S. Okie, 59.

At a hearing Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court, Benson asked for a 130-year prison sentence for Okie -- 60 years for Mills' death and 70 years for his father's death. The judge imposed two consecutive 30-year terms.

Benson attributed the slayings to Okie's alcohol and marijuana use and rage.

Okie's attorney, Peter DeTroy, said his client's schizophrenia was to blame for the brutal slayings. He suggested that the judge impose two prison terms of 30 years, to run concurrently.

''This is an act that was fueled in some way, less or more, by mental illness,'' DeTroy said.

DeTroy likened Okie, 22, of Newcastle, to other young adult males who quit taking their prescribed medication and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

''What happened here is unfathomable,'' he said.

Justice Joseph Jabar, imposing a term that stopped short of a life sentence, noted that even if Okie earns the maximum amount of time off for good behavior each month, he still will remain in prison until he is at least 72.

Benson said Okie was clearly delusional in 2004 and 2005 when he was hospitalized with a mental illness. But ''at the time of the homicides, he was not delusional,'' Benson said.

Okie, who wore a two-piece orange uniform and an orange jacket, in contrast to the civilian clothes he had on during the trial, walked in shackles to a microphone to address the court.

''I'm deeply sorry,'' he said. ''This is a terrible situation that should not have happened. I feel terribly sorry for both families. I'm just incredibly sorry.''

He did not testify during the trial.

Okie's mother also addressed the judge. ''Anyone who knows and loves Johnny knows this is a very sick young man,'' she said. ''I so wish we knew how serious his illness was. Maybe we could have done something. I don't know.''

Jabar presided over the eight-day double-murder trial that ended on Dec. 19, 2008, with the jury finding Okie guilty and criminally responsible for killing both victims.

At Friday's sentencing, Mills' relatives and friends addressed the judge, asking him for the strongest possible sentence for Okie, who had been Mills' classmate at Kents Hill School in Readfield.

Donna Mills, the victim's mother, told the judge that she feels neither hatred nor forgiveness for Okie, and prefers to eradicate him from her life.

She asked for the maximum sentence ''so no one will ever fear that this person has a moment's freedom again.''

In a letter, Mike Zachow, Alexandra Mills' basketball coach during her year at the University of Maine at Augusta, said he wants Okie to live out his sentence indoors, without basketball or television. On his prison cell wall would be ''nothing but a picture of Aleigh and your father as a constant reminder of the two beautiful people you have taken from us,'' Zachow wrote.

Okie killed Alexandra Mills after arriving at her family's Wayne home in the early morning hours and telling her that he wanted to have sex with her. He told investigators and others he used that as a ruse to get her to let him into the home.

He later told psychologists and psychiatrists who testified at the trial that he had made up his mind to kill Mills because he thought she was controlling his thoughts.

Okie bludgeoned Mills with a 4-foot wooden post that had broken from a stairway railing, then slit her throat, a deputy medical examiner testified at trial.

Okie and Mills had dated in high school and graduated together in 2006.

Six days after Mills' murder, Okie, who was questioned in connection with the death, was arrested on alcohol and driving charges, and then bailed out by his father, John S. Okie.

Later that same day, prosecutors said, the younger Okie lay in wait in his Newcastle home as his father mowed the lawn. When he came in to start supper, Okie stabbed him repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

Okie then showered, changed his clothes and drove to pick up his mother, Karen Okie. He expressed shock and surprise when they saw the elder Okie slain on the kitchen floor.

The younger Okie was arrested on a murder charge the next day, after investigators found his DNA on Mills' body and on the post.

During the trial, DeTroy maintained that Okie's mental illness prevented him from recognizing his actions were wrong. Okie had been on antidepressant and antipsychotic medication, but quit taking it months before the killings.

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