FARMINGTON — A 23-year-old former Wilton man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to murder in connection with the bludgeoning death of his grandmother just over a year ago.

Dana Craney changed his plea to guilty in Farmington District Court. He admitted to killing Joanne Goudreau, 67, on Dec. 20, 2014.

Police found her body under a pile of plywood and debris behind the mobile home she and Craney shared at 1130 Weld Road in Wilton. Craney was arrested the next day.

Justice Robert Mullen sentenced Craney to 35 years in prison at the request of Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman. Mullen rejected the state’s request that Craney pay $4,500 in restitution for Goudreau’s funeral expenses, saying his ability to pay would be limited, after 35 years in prison.

At his Jan. 30 arraignment, Craney had entered a plea of not guilty. His attorney, Woody Hanstein, said earlier that Craney was considering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In court Monday, Hanstein said that although Craney “has mental issues, they’re not the kind” that would be accepted as a defense at trial.

Neighbors previously told the Morning Sentinel that Goudreau told them she didn’t feel safe around Craney and he was hitting her.

“Life did not deal Dana a fair set of cards,” Hanstein said Monday. “He got to the age of 22 and had committed no crimes. … He tried to lead his life as best he could.”

While in custody, Craney underwent two rounds of competence evaluations and a criminal responsibility evaluation, according to Hanstein. The results of the evaluations were not disclosed in court Monday, but both Mullen and Cashman acknowledged that Craney had documented mental health issues.

Addressing the court Monday, Craney referred to his current mental state as scattered and said he didn’t feel he was able to express the scope of “abuse and neglect” that he suffered throughout his childhood, which he said led him to kill his grandmother.

“All I wanted was to be seen as a normal and intelligent person,” Craney said. “I only did this in about 60 seconds of my life. (I thought) this was the only way (the abuse) would ever stop.”

Craney’s mother, Katherine Lord, expressed remorse for the actions of her son and the loss of her mother, but said she still loves him and that love would “never die.”

“This is very difficult on the family,” Lord said. “All in one day I lost my mother and I lost my son.”

Lord said the relationship between her and her mother was problematic because they had differing opinions on how to handle Craney’s behavioral problems.

Craney and Lord reportedly didn’t get along and Goudreau had always raised him, according to neighbors.

“My mom loved Mr. Craney with all of her heart, to the point it cost her her life,” Lord said.

Craney entered his guilty plea after being in custody for more than a year. Since his arrest, he had been held without bail at the Franklin County jail in Farmington, and also spent time at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta for evaluation and observation.

Mullen considered Craney’s decision to enter a guilty plea rather than take his case to trial as a mitigating factor in his sentencing. A charge of intentional murder has the potential to carry a 25-year-to-life sentence.

“Dana has done all he can really do to make this as right as he can,” Hanstein said.

Craney, the son of a Lewiston man convicted of murder in 1993, told detectives that he hit Goudreau in the head with a hammer six or seven times while she slept, according to a police affidavit.

Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner, ruled the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, and that the manner of death was a homicide. On Monday, Cashman said the medical examiner found 10 to 12 cuts on Goudreau’s head.

Cashman also revealed testimony that would be used against Craney had the case gone to trial, as it was set to in June. These included the testimony of Wilton police officers who questioned Craney about his grandmother’s whereabouts when she was reported missing by Lord.

Testimony would also have come from Maine State Police detectives who interviewed Craney after he was arrested, and were told by Craney at first that he had gone out trying to look for her himself. Later, he admitted to detectives that he had struck Goudreau while she slept.

Lauren Abbate can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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