PORTLAND – Melissa Harmon sobbed as she described what was lost the day her husband went onto Joseph Green’s Windham property to steal some marijuana plants: the man she loved since she was 13 years old and best friend to their teenage son.

Green, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter Friday for the fatal shooting of 40-year-old David Harmon, also of Windham, will spend the next 10 years in prison for his actions.

As part of an agreement with state prosecutors, Green also pleaded guilty to reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and aggravated cultivation of marijuana.

While David Harmon was planning to steal marijuana from Green’s property in Windham last year, it was only because he was desperate to save his family’s home from foreclosure, Harmon’s relatives said.

“What Joe stole from me and my son was far more radical that a few marijuana plants,” Melissa Harmon said during the proceeding in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Justice Roland Cole sentenced Green, 45, to 17 years in prison, with all but 10 years suspended, for the manslaughter conviction, and five years for each of the other charges. The sentences will run concurrently, so the total prison time is 10 years. He was also ordered to serve four years of probation.

Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

Cole said it would be naive not to recognize that violence accompanies some aspects of growing and possessing marijuana.

“I hear people who grow marijuana are peaceful, marijuana is a harmless drug that we should have a lot more in our community. I would note, here’s one case — a prime example — that there’s a lot of money at stake in the marijuana trade — and violence,” Cole said.

About two dozen people attended the hearing, with Harmon’s family and friends filling seats on one side of the courtroom and three of Green’s supporters on the other side.

Green spoke in a clear voice while entering his pleas and answering procedural questions from Cole. He appeared composed as Harmon’s relatives described him in terms like “monster” and “so-called human” and referred to him going to hell.

Green addressed them briefly while standing at the defendant’s table.

“I’m sorry for my actions,” he said. “I wish things could have changed for all of us. Sorry.”

On the morning of Aug. 31, 2010, Green fired on Harmon and Harmon’s friend, Mark Varney. Varney got away, but Harmon was shot in the back. Green found his body later that morning and moved it with an all-terrain vehicle to another spot on his Roosevelt Trail property.

Authorities found Harmon’s body at the bottom of an 8-foot embankment after his wife reported him missing.

The reckless conduct charge stemmed from another marijuana theft attempt that took place the night before. Another man, Frank Fournier, had gone onto Green’s property and moved some plants. When he returned in a truck, Green had also fired on him with a .40-caliber handgun, hitting the truck.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said Green fired on Harmon and Varney from a distance of about 100 yards.

“He had no right to shoot the victim,” Marchese said after the hearing. “He had no right to do so, which is why he’s guilty of this whether it was an illegal crop or a legal crop. The victim was presenting absolutely no threat to him.”

Jon Gale, Green’s attorney, said his client did not kill anyone intentionally and has been remorseful from the start.

“He definitely wishes he could take back the events of last year,” Gale said.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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