Murderer of Bates student accused of attacking inmate with knife

By Stephen Betts | Apr 10, 2017

Warren — A man serving a 58-year prison sentence for stabbing a Bates College student to death in 2002 is charged with using a homemade knife to attack another prisoner.

Brandon M. Thongsavanh, 34, made his initial appearance Monday, April 10, in Knox County Unified Court on charges of aggravated assault and trafficking in prison contraband.

According to the criminal complaint filed in court, the 34-year-old Thongsavanh stabbed Richard B. Coleman at the Maine State Prison on Aug. 2, 2016. The contraband charge stems from his possessing a homemade knife known as a shank.

Thongsavanh asked if he could plead guilty to the charges, but Judge Susan Sparaco said no plea would be accepted at the initial appearance. She asked him whether he wanted an attorney to be appointed for him by the court and Thongsvahn said he did.

The inmate was twice convicted by juries of murdering Morgan McDuffee March 2, 2002, on Main Street in Lewiston. The first conviction was overturned by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which agreed that the trial court erred when it allowed the prosecution to introduce unfairly prejudicial evidence of Thongsvahn wearing a T-shirt with profane language on it on the night of the killing.

The state high court rejected in January 2007 an appeal by Thongsavanh of the second conviction that was rendered in January 2006.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said Thongsavanh has about 50 years left to serve.

The prisoner is next scheduled to appear in court on the charges on June 1.

The injuries to Coleman were superficial, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said. Coleman was in the prison serving a two-year sentence for burglary. The state prison website states that Coleman is scheduled to be released April 27.

McDuffee was a senior at Bates just a few months shy of graduation when he was stabbed five times in the back and chest during a fight between college students and young people from the Lewiston area. McDuffee was from Peterborough, N.H.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Don Dickinson | Apr 10, 2017 23:24

Segregation for the rest of his sentence seems appropriate.Too bad the gallows aren't an option.

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