BIDDEFORD

The mother of a slain Biddeford teenager is relieved that her son’s alleged killer plans to change his plea to guilty today, but remains wary of what will occur during the hearing.

James Pak, a Biddeford landlord charged with murdering two teenagers in 2012, is scheduled to change his plea to guilty during a hearing at 1 p.m. today at York County Superior Court in Alfred, his attorney said Monday.

Pak, who is in his late 70s, has been charged with two counts of murder in the Dec. 29, 2012, shooting deaths of 19-year-old Derrick Thompson and his 18-yearold girlfriend Aliva Welch, as well as one count of aggravated attempted murder in the shooting of Thompson’s mother, Susan Johnson.

According to police, Pak shot the victims after a dispute over parking and snow removal at the building where he rented an apartment to Johnson and her son.

In an email Monday, Johnson said she was “very relieved” by the news, but added, “I will be more relieved when it actually happens.”

Pak’s attorney, Joel Vincent, said his client is choosing to change his plea to save the victims’ family — as well as himself and his wife — from the “emotional distress” of what Vincent called “basically a needless trial.”

Pak originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His mental competency to stand trial was debated at two hearings in February and May 2015. Justice John O’Neil Jr. ruled in November that Pak is capable of standing trial.

Vincent said the competency ruling more or less made the case unwinnable for the defense.

“Really, the issue in this case was about (Pak’s) competency, and that’s been at this point determined by the court,” he said.

With the minimum sentence for a single homicide in Maine being 25 years and the average in cases with multiple victims being 40 years, Vincent said whatever sentence is imposed on Pak would “obviously be the equivalent of a life sentence, and (Pak) understands that.”

Calls to Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, were not returned before deadline.

Journaltribune.com



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