Auburn firefighters douse what is left Saturday of a house on Russell Avenue in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Maine Fraternal Order of Police and the Maine State Troopers Association issued a joint press release Sunday rebuking District Court Judge Sarah Churchill for reducing bail for Leein Amos Hinkley, 43, of Lewiston.

Hinkley upended Russell Avenue in Auburn early Saturday when he attacked a woman and her significant other at her home and set a fire that destroyed the house and a neighboring residence, officials said.

While the woman escaped to safety, Hinkley was fatally shot by a state police officer on a Russell Avenue rooftop after an hourslong standoff, and human remains were later found in the rubble of the woman’s home.

Churchill could have been prevented all of this, according to the press release.

On Wednesday, Churchill removed Hinkley’s probation hold stemming from 2011 crimes, and reduced from $5,000 to $1,500 Hinkley’s bail related to a charge from May 24.

The May 24 charge of domestic violence aggravated assault was a probation violation based on domestic violence crimes from 2011 in which he repeatedly stabbed and punched a former girlfriend and stabbed a good Samaritan in front of the then-couple’s 14-month-old baby, according to officials.


Hinkley was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with five years suspended, and had the remainder of that sentence over his head if he were to violate probation. Hinkley effectively violated that probation May 24, officials said, when he attacked his girlfriend at the Blue Goose at 69 Sabattus St. in Lewiston.

“Despite the severity of Hinkley’s prior criminal charges, a victim seeking help from the court, and opposition from prosecutors, Judge Churchill essentially let him off the hook,” the release reads. “After two weeks of incarceration on new criminal charges and violating his probation, Judge Churchill cited Hinkley’s Sixth Amendment right based on a failure to obtain legal counsel as the reason for his release.”

The prosecutor in the case, Neil McLean, the district attorney for Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, argued against reducing Hinkley’s bail.

McLean was not available for comment Sunday.

Information in the press release said McLean’s office did its job in trying to ensure Hinkley’s detention and protect his domestic violence victims. All responsibility for Saturday’s carnage “now squarely falls on Judge Sarah Churchill,” the release reads.

“This poor judgment shows a blatant disregard for the safety of a victim of domestic violence and public safety,” the release reads. “If Leein Hinkley had remained incarcerated as he should have been, the events of June 15 would not have taken place.

“Judge Churchill’s poor judgment led to the loss of life and property and put the public and responding police officers in the line of fire from a man who should have remained locked up. This tragedy should never have occurred. We demand better judgment in our courts and accountability for Judge Sarah Churchill’s incompetent actions.”

Neither Churchill nor a spokesperson for the Maine Judicial Branch responded Sunday to calls for comment.

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