Man who used live grenade to kidnap wife enters guilty plea

This story was published on Nov. 28, 2001 on Page B6 in all editions of the Bangor Daily News

ALFRED – A Parsonsfield man who held his estranged wife captive with a live grenade and sexually assaulted her will be serving a seven-year sentence under a plea agreement with prosecutors.

John Morton, 35, pleaded guilty in York County Superior Court on Monday to felony charges of kidnapping, gross sexual assault and criminal threatening.

State charges of assault, possession of a firearm and terrorizing as well as a federal charge of possessing a grenade were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Prosecutors say Morton kidnapped his wife on Nov. 5, 2000, by using a live grenade and threatened to “blow them to kingdom come.”

Morton’s actions followed his discovery that his wife had spent the night with another man, according to Clifford Strike, Morton’s lawyer.

Strike said Morton bought a bag full of old military equipment at a Gorham flea market and later discovered the grenade, wrapped in cloth, at the bottom of the bag.

Prosecutors initially offered Morton 14 years in prison in exchange for his guilty plea, Strike said, but his client rejected the offer and was prepared to go to trial.

But at 11 a.m. Monday, Strike said, the state offered a 20-year sentence, with all but seven years suspended. Morton’s sentence also includes six years of probation.

“This is an outstanding resolution for my client, who knew he was doing five years anyway,” Strike said.

Strike said Morton would have received at least five years for the firearms charge and possibly another eight years for the federal grenade charge.

York County Superior Court Justice Robert Crowley said the sentence is comparatively light. If a jury had convicted Morton of all three counts, he would have faced up to 85 years in prison.