Richard Steeves

Question re. Steeves:  
a) What NH murder did Steeves confess to?
b) Any chance he could have killed a family of 4 when he escaped in 1981?

STATE of Maine v. Richard Steeves    Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.  April 5, 1978.

Michael D. Seitzinger (orally), Charles K. Leadbetter, Asst. Attys. Gen., Augusta, James R. Erwin, Law Student, for plaintiff.
Daniel G. Lilley, Portland (orally), Wayne E. Murray, Somersworth, N. H., for defendant.
Before POMEROY, ARCHIBALD, DELAHANTY, GODFREY and NICHOLS, JJ.
NICHOLS, Justice.

On February 3, 1966, a grand jury in Kennebec County returned an indictment charging the Defendant with the August, 1965, murder of Lorenzo Troyer. For reasons discussed below, he has never been brought to trial on that charge.

This case comes here on report pursuant to Rule 37A(a), M.R.Cr.P., for our determination of whether the Defendant has been denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial and whether his motion to dismiss this indictment should be granted.

We remand to the Superior Court with directions to grant that motion.

From the record,[1] it appears that Lorenzo Troyer died in an Augusta Hospital on August 15, 1965 after being discovered at home the day previous suffering from head injuries consistent with a beating by a blunt object. Police conducted an investigation and followed several leads, but no arrests resulted.

*1380 On January 5, 1966, the Defendant was picked up by the Manchester, New Hampshire police on an unrelated matter involving a car allegedly stolen in Ohio. During the course of interrogation, he allegedly confessed to five murders, including the Troyer murder, a murder in New Hampshire, two murders in Ohio, and another murder in Maine.[2]

On January 16, 1967, the Defendant was adjudged not guilty by reason of insanity on the New Hampshire murder charge, and was committed to the New Hampshire State Prison for life "until or unless earlier discharged, released or transferred by due course of law." The Maine Attorney General was promptly notified by New Hampshire authorities of this disposition.

The Defendant remained in the New Hampshire State Prison until December, 1971, when he was transferred to Ohio for trial on two murder charges there. On June 14, 1972, the Defendant entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to those charges. The Ohio court accepted that plea and committed him to the Lima State Hospital, such commitment to begin if and when he was released from custody in New Hampshire. The Defendant was then returned to New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Hospital escapee Richard Steeves could be back... UPI archives Sept. 30, 1981

 

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire Hospital escapee Richard Steeves could be back in New Hampshire Friday following a decision by Canadian officials to deport him, State Police Maj. Richard Campbell said.




Steeves, committed to the hospital in 1977 after being found innocent by reason of insanity of murder, failed to return Sept. 22 from an approved unescorted visit off the hospital grounds. He was recaptured one day later about 320 kilometers north of Toronto.

Campbell said Tuesday that Canadian authorities decided to deport Steeves following a hearing in Ontario. He said officials chose deportation to avoid the complications of a lengthy extradition proceeding.

The state police detective said Steeves is expected to be flown Friday into Boston, where he will be picked up by New Hampshire state troopers for his return to the Granite State.

Steeve's escape came less than two months after a Superior Court judge ordered hospital officials to allow him to leave the hospital unescorted for brief periods. The judge also ordered the hospital to release Steeves next July, pending good behavior.



Newspaper reporter ordered to testify in trial.  Aberdeen American [Aberdeen, S.D.]  Dec. 31, 1986.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP)-- A judge ordered a newspaper reporter to testify at the murder trial of a man who allegedly made incriminating statements to him in an interview two years ago. 

Merrimack County, N.H., Superior Court Justice Arthur Bean ruled Monday that Concord Monitor reporter Robert Hohler is a "material and necessary witness" at the trial of Richard Steeves in Knox County, Maine. 

The newspaper is appealing to the state Supreme Court, arguing that Hohler should not have to testify because he is a reporter and because Maine authorities have not shown that Hohler's testimony is "necessary," the standard set by New Hampshire law for residents subpoenaed for out-of-state trials.

Hoehler said Tuesday that the ruling "potentially compromises the ability for reporters to do their jobs" because people might perceive newspapers as a law-enforcement tool. 

Steeves is charged with killing Russell Bailey, 69, of Wells, Maine, and is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 5.

He was a New Hampshire mental patient and prison inmate for 18 years and was connected to five murders. He pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to three of them. About six months after Steeves was released from New Hampshire custody in 1984, Bailey was found in his Maine home, shot and beaten.

When Maine authorities said Steeves was sought in the Bailey murder, he was being held at the New Hampshire State Prison on parole violations. There, in June 1985, Steeves allegedly made the incriminating statements to Hohler in an interview. 

"I think I saw someone else kill him. But on the other hand, I have a dream that I see myself doing it. I'm just not sure. I do know the guy wasn't killed for money. He did something sexually, and somebody did something to him," he was quoted as saying.  



Reporter Fights Testifying At Trial In Murders Special to the New York Times   Published: January 4, 1987
[Excerpt] ...  Mr. Steeves is accused of the April 1984 slaying of Russell Bailey, 69, and Harry Staples, 83, who was killed in 1966.

Both men lived in Wells, Me., not far from the New Hampshire border. Each killing in which Mr. Steeves was implicated, including some in the 1960's, involved beating, the police said. Mr. Bailey was also shot, but the bullet wound was not the cause of his death...

...Before the interview, Mr. Steeves was incarcerated for nearly 18 years at the New Hampshire State Hospital forensic unit in Concord in connection with murders committed in the 1960's. He was released in 1984 on the basis of the authorities' assessment that he had recovered from mental problems and had become an example of recover and rehabilitation. A year later he was back in custody. 


'I think I'm Innocent'
In the article, published June 12, 1985, in the Concord Monitor, Mr. Steeves was quoted as saying: "I'm not well enough to say what really happened. I think I'm innocent in one way, but in another way, I don't know. My mind's all screwed up."


Man serving life for 1985 murder to get case reviewed  Bangor Daily News Stephen Betts  Feb. 6, 2013
ROCKLAND, Maine — A 71-year-old man serving a life sentence for the 1985 beating death of a Wells gift store owner will have a judge hear his request for a review of his conviction.

Justice William Anderson on Jan. 25 in Knox County Superior Court granted Richard Steeves a hearing after ruling that the inmate had met the requirement under state law for a post-conviction review by the court on his claim of ineffective counsel.

No date has been set, although motions must be filed 45 days from when Steeves is appointed an attorney.

Anderson made no ruling on Steeves’ claim that blood-stained boots of an alternate suspect seized by detectives were improperly barred from being presented at Steeves’ January 1987 trial held in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland. The case, which had originated in York County, was moved to Knox County because of extensive pretrial publicity.

Steeves has argued that a DNA analysis of the boots would have vindicated him.

While not addressing that issue, Justice Anderson said a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year — Lafler vs. Cooper — could allow Steeves the right to argue ineffective counsel even after the deadline to file such an appeal, which is within a year of the conviction.

In the Supreme Court case, the high court ruled that the right to effective counsel extends not just to a fair trial but to the matter of plea negotiations.
Steeves argues that his defense attorney wrongfully intimidated him to not take a 40-year prison sentence offered by the state prior to the trial. After being convicted, Justice G. Arthur Brennan sentenced Steeves to a life term for the murder of Russell Bailey of Wells.

News articles written at the time of the trial reported that defense attorney Ricky Brunette told the jury in opening statements at Steeves’ trial that another man committed the murder and that this person forced Steeves to write a note and leave it in on Bailey’s body. The note read: “You will never touch my daughter again.”

The 1987 trial also garnered headlines because Steeves had been interviewed by Robert Hohler, a columnist from the Concord [N.H.] Monitor. Steeves implicated himself in the interview. Hohler was ordered to testify but refused, citing First Amendment rights.

The prosecutors in the case were then Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Goodwin and Michael Westcott. Goodwin told the jury that Steeves story of being forced to watch the murder was false and that there was overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt.

Steeves also was implicated in other deaths in Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio. He was tried in 1967 in connection with a murder in New Hampshire but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He also was found not guilty by reason of insanity on two murder charges in Ohio. Steeves was indicted in 1966 in connection with the August 1965 murder of Lorenzo Trayor in Augusta. That indictment was dismissed in 1978 by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court because of the state’s delay in prosecuting Steeves.



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