BELFAST – A drug-addled father who left his toddler children and wife overnight in the backwoods of Waldo County last winter and committed a string of house break-ins to feed his habit will spend the next two years in prison.
Sean R. Anderson, 24, of Albion pleaded guilty to an array of burglary, theft and drug charges and was sentenced Thursday by Waldo County Superior Court Justice Donald H. Marden. He also pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of his two children.
Although Marden handed down varying sentences on 10 crimes, the cumulative result was that Anderson was sentenced to six years in prison with all but 21/2 years suspended and six years of probation.
Anderson’s wife, Kristie Anderson, 26, of Albion pleaded guilty to burglary charges and endangering the welfare of her children but has yet to be sentenced. She is enrolled in a drug treatment program and will be sentenced when that is completed, probably early next year.
The Andersons’ two children, Kaylan, 3, and Kallie, 2, are being raised by family members under the care of the state Department of Health and Human Services. After the Jan. 20-21 incident, both children were treated for minor frostbite to their hands and feet.
Kaylan had been wearing a winter jacket and socks; Kallie, a winter jacket and pajamas with booties.
Sean Anderson has been enrolled in a drug treatment program, but he was returned to jail after it was determined that he was using narcotics while undergoing treatment.
Anderson apologized to Justice Marden for failing to fulfill his part of the bargain when Marden set him free on bail to attend the treatment program.
“I’m sorry. You gave me a chance and I messed up,” Anderson told the judge.
Anderson has already served 71/2 months in jail – time that will be credited to his 21/2-year sentence. Anderson also was ordered to make approximately $4,000 in restitution to his burglary victims.
District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau noted that while the burglaries were more serious crimes in the eyes of the law, it was Anderson’s decision to leave his children in the woods overnight during the dead of winter that he found extremely troubling.
“In the view of many people, the more serious crime was endangering the welfare of these two children,” Rushlau told the court.
Marden admonished Anderson for leaving the children in the woods. He said exposing the children to the elements could have resulted in death on a colder night. Police said the low that night was 47 degrees.
Although Kristie Anderson initially had been with the toddlers the night of Jan. 20, searchers found the children huddled together on a rock outcropping in woods off Chisholm Road in Palermo the next day and their mother more than a mile away.
In recommending the sentences, Rushlau said that because Anderson would be incarcerated for nearly two years, it would allow him to enter a drug treatment program while in custody.
The six years of probation also would ensure that Anderson either remain drug-free or return to prison, he said.
Defense attorney Christopher MacLean agreed that leaving the children in the woods was “the most serious conduct” of Anderson’s string of crimes.
He said Anderson placed his children in “serious jeopardy” and that he was fortunate the temperature on that January night had not been lower. MacLean blamed Anderson’s behavior on his drug-addled mind.
“Hard-drug addicts make unfortunate decisions,” he said. “It was a reckless act taken under the influence of drugs. … A classic situation where drug addiction causes a string of bad habits.”
Both Andersons knew police suspected them in the burglaries, so they parked their car in the Palermo woods to avoid detection. When they heard dogs barking, they incorrectly assumed that police were on to them. So they ran into the woods with their children.
Before doing so, however, they injected themselves with cocaine. Once in the woods they became disoriented and separated. Anderson made his way out by late afternoon and called a family member for assistance.
The family member notified authorities and a massive search was mounted, though Kristie Anderson and her children were not found until the next morning.
“I’m sorry for everybody I hurt,” Sean Anderson told the court Thursday. “My kids, my wife, the people I broke into their houses.”