|Lionel W Cormier SBI Number: TMP1000358 Sentenced as: Cormier, Lionel W Race: White Ethnicity: N/A Sex: Male Hair Color:Black Eye Color: Brown Height: 5'10" Weight: 180 lbs. Birth Date: September 18, 1952 Admission Date:November 24, 1986 Current Facility: Transferred from SWSP Current Max Release Date: N/A Current Parole Eligibility Date: N/A INCARCERATION HISTORY Date In Custody - Date Out of Custody November 24, 1986- September 12, 2002 ALIASES Clegg, John|
|On February 1, 2005, an email from Coleman said that Cormier’s trial should occur
within the next couple of months and he would keep me posted. He added, “Hope
all is well and say hi to Derald [Derry]." In another email on March 3, he said,
“Cormier’s trial is currently scheduled to begin March 28, 2005 at the U. S. District
Court in Portland. Jury selection will be prior to this. I’ll notify you of any changes.
It was to be in Bangor but this has been changed. Let Derry know for me. Also, Mikel [Derry’s daughter] was issued a subpoena.” I sent a thank you email for letting
Shawn was supposed to fly into Boston on Saturday, March 26, stay the night with his sister, Coralee, in Massachusetts, then they would drive to Bangor on Sunday, March 27, stay the night, and attend the trial with us on Monday, March 28. But, Shawn got very sick and couldn’t come. There was freezing rain in Massachusetts and southern Maine, so Coralee couldn’t come either. They were able to come for the sentencing in June.
The news reported each day of Cormier’s trial. The first day of trial was March 28, 2005: Derald and I attended the first day of Cormier’s trial in Portland, Maine, 128 miles from Bangor. Cormier was brought in in handcuffs. They were taken off before the jury came in. Later in the day, he looked back at Derald and me. Two men testified against him. Court started at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. because Cormier needed a dialysis treatment. I didn’t attend the trial the next day. I was disappointed that I wasn’t there when I read in the newspaper that many witnesses had testified, including Cormier’s girlfriend from Massachusetts.
On March 30, 2005, Wednesday—Derry and I attended the trial along with his daughter, Kelli. Court ended again at 2:30 p.m. for Cormier’s dialysis treatment. His treatments were scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Derry and I left the courtroom for a break. Derry was holding the door open for me when he looked back at Cormier. He said Cormier was looking directly at him and Derry gave him a big smile (to let him know we were pleased with the evidence the government had against him). There was a clock behind us on the back wall over the courtroom doors. Twice, Cormier looked back at the clock, and then looked directly at me before he turned back around. I don’t know if he knew for sure who I was, but I believe someone had told him. I stared at the sick-looking face. He had no hair, a handlebar mustache, and an unhealthy color to his face. To me, he looked like a walrus. 1
Kelli was called to the stand to testify that day. Cormier was saying he was not in the Bangor area, but she had seen Cormier at an apartment in Bangor. Kelli was born one year after her Uncle Mike’s murder and she ended up as a witness against his murderer; very strange!
On February 18, 1993, at 11 years old Kelli wrote a little poem about the night her Uncle Mike was murdered:
In a red Pinto you arrived between 12 and 4. I knew who you were, I had seen you before. As I breathed my last breath upon broken glass from the door you left me to die in my ashes on the floor.I spoke with P. I. Buchanan about the trial one evening after I returned home. He said he was home sick. As we talked, he said he tried to do something about Shuman’s perjury during Cormier’s August 1986 trial, but wasn’t able to. I said Shuman obstructed justice, and he said, “He sure did!” I will always be thankful to “Bucky” Buchanan for his help and support during my struggle to get something done about my son’s violent murder. One day while talking with him about Mike’s murder, he made the statement that “something isn’t kosher.”
On Thursday, March 31, I didn’t attend the trial. But on Friday, April 1, Derry and I drove back to Portland. We got there early and went to a Starbucks coffee shop on a street behind the federal courthouse. The Victim Advocate prosecutor had told Derry that the trial would end that day.
After we got back to the courthouse and were seated, Coleman came and sat in the bench ahead of us and and turned toward Derry and me to talk for a few minutes. He told us that Matt Stewart was a “good guy.” He said Stewart said he was sorry about my son’s case, but his hands were tied, because he was under Shuman. Coleman said Pinkham was working for FEMA at this time, and he was going to see him. I knew Pinkham had retired from the Maine State Police a few years back and a chill went through me when I thought he meant Pinkham would be involved in Mike’s case again. I said, “He isn’t involved in this case now, is he?” He said, “No, I want to ask him why he told you what he did and then denied it.” If Coleman ever asked Pinkham about what he had told me in 1981, he never told me.
The closing arguments didn’t end until nearly 1:30 p.m. Derry and I found a pizza place and had lunch. After lunch, the jury deliberations began. Cormier’s attorney motioned the court for a mistrial due to something U. S. Federal Prosecutor Gale Malone said about Cormier in her closing statements. I can’t remember what she said that nearly caused a mistrial. I was a nervous wreck until the judge told her that she had come dangerously close to causing one.
Cormier went for dialysis at 3:30 p.m. and his treatment lasted for five hours. At nearly 5:00 p.m., the jury was brought in and told that Cormier’s dialysis treatment wouldn’t end until 8:30 p.m., so he wouldn’t be back in the courtroom until 9:00 p.m. or later. Because of this, the judge gave them a choice of finishing their deliberations now or on Monday. The jury chose to finish their deliberations that day.
During the wait for Cormier to return, I sat in a chair in the hall near the doors to the courtroom and Derry stayed outside on the courthouse steps, talking with Coleman, the Victim advocate/Prosecutor Gail Malone, and Detective Tall, a Bangor PD Detective. Some negative comments were made about Shuman because his obituary in the BDN stated all of his cases were closed when he retired. Derry learned some interesting things during his conversation with them. He learned that the State of Maine didn’t want Cormier. Derry said he was told it was because his dialysis treatments were too expensive. The Bangor PD detective told Derry that it was during Coleman’s investigation of Mike’s murder that Coleman was able to get Cormier for the armed robberies. I will always be thankful to Coleman for getting Cormier put back behind bars. It was said that if Cormier was given a life sentence for the robberies, the State of Maine would not go to the expense of prosecuting Cormier for Mike’s murder. I would like for the State of Maine to at least admit that Cormier, Pollard, and Percy Sargent killed my son. 2
On our way home, the VA prosecutor called Derry and told him they had reached a verdict, but it would be Monday morning, April 4, before it could be read. On Monday, Derry and I drove the two hours back to Portland to hear the verdict. We got there at 7:45 a.m. and court was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. We walked back to Starbucks to pass some time before returning to the courthouse, going through security, and walking up to the second floor courtroom. Derry sat in the chair beside the courtroom doors while he waited for me to return from the ladies’ room. As I came back down the long hall, I could see Coleman and Derry talking. Derry told me later that Coleman had asked if I was there when he didn’t see me. When I reached them, Coleman told us that Cormier had made the statement, “There’s going to be another murder,” after one of his cohorts testified against him. He also threatened his attorney. He told him he would kill him if he didn’t do his job.
Cormier was brought into the courtroom in chains and handcuffs. They weren’t removed as they had been the week before. There was extra security in the courtroom. Cormier was found guilty on all five counts. The newspapers reported he was shackled because of something that had happened in the courtroom with another defendant on Friday. But, Derry and I believed it was because of his threats.
Coleman said Cormier told investigators he robbed drug dealers for a living. Prosecutor Malone tried to use the information, but the judge wouldn’t allow it. His previous bad acts couldn’t be used either. Bangor PD Detective Tall told Derry that Coleman “got a lot of men put many away,” while investigating your brother’s murder. There was some conversation that day concerning Shuman being incompetent, though I believe it was more than incompetence with Shuman.
While Derry was outside with the prosecutor, Coleman and Officer Tall, he listened to them tell a story about the day they arrested Cormier. Derry said they laughed while they told it. Cormier’s girlfriend was a nurse and she had Cormier on a donor list for a kidney transplant. He was to go in the hospital the day the detectives arrested him. Cormier was livid when they arrived to arrest him just a few hours before his admission time. The detectives thought that was funny. Cormier knew he was facing a death sentence if he wasn’t admitted to the hospital that day. And so it was; Cormier died in a federal prison in 2009, less than 4 years later. A little justice for my son, and we can thank a great Maine State Police Homicide Detective by the name of Gerald Coleman.
Three weeks before Cormier's sentence, the BDN reported Shuman’s death. His obituary on June 7, 2005 reported that he died June 2, 2005 [he was 65 years old], at a Pensacola, Florida hospice, after a year- long battle with cancer. His obituary said, “Barry served a distinguished 28-year career in the Maine State Police, rising through the ranks from Trooper to Detective Sergeant. He retired his post in 1997 with all of his cases closed. Never one to settle down” the obituary said, “as he continued to serve the community at the Penobscot County Courthouse until he moved to Florida in 2004.”
I really don’t feel comfortable disagreeing with a man’s obituary, but I am stumped by the statement, “He retired his post in 1997 with all of his cases closed.” Maybe Shuman did feel that Mike’s brutal murder was a closed case after he was instrumental in having three ‘innocent’ men indicted for Mike’s murder. But, Shuman disregarded the fact that the indictment was secured with perjured testimony.
Shawn flew to Maine from his home in Indiana on Saturday, June 25, to attend the sentencing of Lionel Cormier. Coleman arrived at my home the afternoon of June 27. My phone number had been changed and he couldn’t reach me. He said something might come up about Mike during Cormier’s sentencing, and he wanted me to be aware of it, but didn’t say what it might be. I told him I had seen Shuman’s obituary in the BDN. He said he had gone to the funeral and heard one of Shuman’s sons say the same thing about his father.
Court in Portland was to begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28. Shawn, Derry, his son, Jay, and I all left early to have time to meet with Coralee, who was driving up from Massachusetts. We left home in two vehicles because Shawn and I were driving to Indiana after court. When we were near Portland, Derry called us on his cell phone and asked us to go beyond the Portland exit we had intended to take and stop at the first restaurant beyond it, to meet up with Coralee, and he could take some video. After taking some video, we all followed Derry to a location near the courthouse and found a parking place.
We were early, so we decided to go to the pizza place Derry and I had eaten at that spring. As we walked the short distance back to the courthouse Mike was on my mind and I kept thinking we are here Mike to see the scumbag get what he finally has coming to him. 3
The courtroom door was still locked when we arrived on the second floor. There was a woman standing to the left of the door who was peering in the little window at the top of the door. She ignored us as we stood waiting and talking. I later learned that she was a BDN reporter I had spoken with and told I would see at the trial in Portland, but she didn't identify herself. She completely ignored me. Derry and I told filled Shawn and Coralee in on some of what we had learned in court in March and April. Coleman and Tall arrived and we talked over some of the case with them. Coleman again said that Mike’s name might be brought up during the sentencing. This was good news to me, but I wondered why his name would be brought up.
Shortly after we were seated in the courtroom, Cormier was brought in, in his orange prison suit and handcuffs. As I’ve said, he looked like a walrus with his bald head and his handlebar mustache, but he now looked more menacing. I immediately noticed that Cormier had a new lawyer. Coleman had mentioned his threats, and I later learned that the attorney who represented him during his trial withdrew when Cormier threatened to have him killed if he was found guilty.
Lionel Cormier’s sentencing
The following is from a transcript of Cormier’s sentencing hearing in U. S. District Court in Portland, Maine before Honorable George Z. Singal, Chief Judge, on June 28, 2005:
U. S. Federal Prosecutor Gail Malone's closing argument:
This defendant has an unbroken chain of violent convictions starting at age 19 that is adequately set forth in the presentence report so I won’t reiterate them here.Cormier’s Defense Attorney Robert Napolitano addressed the court
May it please the Court, Your Honor, Your Honor, no matter what sentence this Court gives Mr. Cormier, I believe he has been on dialysis for quite a while and at his age, he is probably too old for a kidney transplant. [Cormier was born Sept. 18, 1952. He was sentenced June of 2005, making him 52 at the time.] I would suggest that the most that Mr. Cormier will be alive for would be another five to seven years. Obviously his sentence is going to be much larger than five to seven.Lionel Cormier addressed the court
I mean, it’s hard to talk to Ms. Malone. You know, charging me with the Cochran murder when I have not been charged with it, or even indicted, or even questioned about it except by Mr. Coleman himself, 5 which is probably obvious from all the charges I have. I’ve been caught for everything I have done so if I would have done this Cochran issue, obviously I would have been convicted and sentenced to life.Judge Singal sentences Cormier
Thank you, Mr. Cormier. ... All right, Mr. Cormier, the Congress of the United States has indicated that I need to take a number of factors into account in determining sentence in this case.
My other three children. On the left is Mike’s youngest brother, Shawn, his sister Coralee, and his older brother, Derry, taken at the Federal Courthouse in Portland the day Lionel Cormier was sentenced.
The news reported on June 30, 2005 that one of Maine’s most violent career criminals was sentenced to 34 years in prison—a virtual life sentence for Cormier because of his health problems. It was also reported that his criminal history in Maine extended back more than 30 years. Cormier’s convictions ranged from kidnapping to robbery and included acts such as cutting off the ear of one East Corinth victim and bragging that he had tied another victim to a toilet and burned the house down around him.
Federal prosecutor Malone said, “Cormier also bragged to others that he had killed Micheal Cochran in 1981 in Dedham, a murder for which he and others were acquitted but has never been solved.”
This was erroneous information—the State of Maine never even questioned Cornier about Mike’s murder. Cormier said this to the judge during his sentencing.
The news reported that I was in the courtroom on Tuesday to watch Cormier's sentencing. It quoted me as saying that I was “glad Cormier would spend the rest of his life behind bars” and that “I knew he had killed my son ...” I was also reported as saying, “State Police Detective Gerald Coleman continued to investigate leads in Mike’s death.”
The BDN was evidently informed of their incorrect statement and printed this correction in a later edition:
A story on Page B1 in Wednesday’s editions on the sentencing of Lionel Cormier in U. S. District Court in Portland incorrectly reported that Cormier had been acquitted of murder charges in the 1981 killing of Micheal Cochran in Dedham. Cormier never was charged with or with or acquitted of that murderOn September 14, 2005, I spent three hours on the phone with Coleman discussing Mike’s murder and the two other men involved in his death. I was so encouraged, believing that now I would soon see the arrests of Paul Pollard and Percy Sargent.