PORTLAND (AP) — The state supreme court on Friday upheld the 80 years in consecutive sentences handed a Saco man who admitted to the rape and attempted murder of a 15-year-old girl in York in 1991.
David Fleming had argued that his sentence for attempted murder should have been concurrent with his sentences for four other charges — kidnapping, gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and aggravated assault — because the charges all involved the same crime.
“Fleming argues that he intended to murder his victim when the criminal episode began and therefore the attempted murder of his victim `facilitated’ her rape,” the court said.
Fleming is serving the maximum sentence possible for the brutal July 12, 1991, attack.
He hit the victim’s bicycle with his car, raped her in his car and then led her into the woods, where he stabbed her in the chest, slashed her throat and buried her in leaves before heading to his job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Wells. The girl pretended to be dead but was able to crawl to a house for help.
The justices found no error in the ruling of York County Superior Court Justice Thomas E. Delahanty II, who found that the attempted murder was a separate criminal act.
Maine law allows consecutive sentences on separate charges only when the charges arise out of separate crimes.
“Fleming in fact attempted to murder his victim to cover up his earlier crimes,” the court said in a decision by Justice Paul Rudman.
The court did vacate Fleming’s sentence on the aggravated assault charge, which both prosecutors and Fleming’s attorneys agreed had been improperly separated from the attempted murder charge.
Vacating that sentence will have no impact on Fleming’s time behind bars, said his attorney, Jacqueline W. Rider.
“It’s still 80 years,” she said.
Rider reserved further comment because she had not seen the decision.
The court also rejected Fleming’s argument that the sentencing judge improperly considered statements from his victim, her family and her doctor, as well as a Biddeford Journal Tribune article detailing his criminal history.
Before the 1991 conviction, Fleming had already spent 10 years at the state prison for two previous rape convictions. He has since been charged with the 1990 murder of a Bangor woman.
The justices also rejected his argument that the sentence was more harsh because it was imposed on the day before Thanksgiving.
District Attorney Michael Cantara said he was pleased with the court’s decision. The long sentence, he said, was “particularly gratifying, considering the violent nature of the crime.”