Maine’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Daniel Fortune will remain in prison for life for his role in a home invasion and machete attack in Pittston that left a father and his 10-year-old daughter maimed.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the convictions and two concurrent life sentences that were imposed on Fortune, now 24, after a seven-day trial last year.

William Guerrette, who was wounded in the attack on May 27, 2008, said he learned of the ruling late Tuesday.

“I’m heartened to see that the Supreme Judicial Court saw the reality of the horror that was inflicted on my daughter and me and agreed with the judge,” he said. “Thank the Lord.”

In a unanimous opinion written by Associate Justice Donald Alexander, the court found that “the most significant elements of this crime, a planned and intended murder of as many as five individuals, extreme cruelty and brutality in the crimes committed, and permanent damage and disfigurement of two of the victims, leave no doubt that the sentencing factors addressed support the life sentences imposed here.”

Fortune was convicted in Somerset County Superior Court on May 14, 2010, for 14 crimes connected with the predawn invasion of the home of William and Melanie Guerrette.

He had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to stealing a safe containing $180,000 in cash and other valuables from the same house on Nov. 19, 2007.

Fortune was convicted of two counts each of aggravated attempted murder involving premeditation and two involving extreme cruelty, and two counts of elevated aggravated assault. The victims were William Guerrette, a businessman and former state legislator, and his daughter, Nicole.

William Guerrette suffered machete wounds to his head, arm and hand. He spent a month in a coma, and still bears the scars on his arm. He also lost a finger in the attack. Nicole Guerrette suffered severe head wounds and brain damage.

Fortune also was convicted of attempted murder of the three other Guerrette family members who were at home, and of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary and a violation of condition of release.

Fortune’s co-defendant, his foster brother and roommate Leo Hylton, who was 18 when he wielded a machete in the attack, pleaded guilty to charges related to the home invasion. He was sentenced to spend 50 years in prison and 15 years on probation.

In his appeal, Fortune argued that the evidence was insufficient for the jury to convict him on all of the aggravated attempted murder and attempted murder charges, and that the concurrent life sentences were disproportionate to the crimes.

Arguments in the appeal were heard Oct. 16.

Arnold Clark, the attorney who represented Fortune, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle, whose office prosecuted Fortune, said he was gratified but not surprised by the court’s opinion.

“The court resoundingly affirmed that crimes of the utmost barbarity can be punished by the maximum sanction allowed by our law,” he said.

William Guerrette said Tuesday that he was grateful to the Legislature for adopting a law allowing a life sentence for attempted murder. “A criminal shouldn’t be rewarded because the victim of the attempted murder is blessed enough to survive,” he said.

Further appeal would have to go through a post-conviction review process, in which Fortune could challenge the work by his attorneys, or through federal courts if Fortune claims a constitutional violation, attorneys say.

“We don’t see any ground for granting relief under a post-conviction review,” Fowle said.

 

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at [email protected]