A defendant in the 2013 robbery of a Boothbay home has a long history of violent crime, including a conviction for attempting to beat a woman to death on the Boothbay Harbor footbridge in 1988.
Michael L. “Mike” Brewer, 58, faces felony charges of robbery and burglary in connection with the March 17, 2013 home invasion of the Barters Island home of Frank and Alice Schambra.
His history of crime in the Boothbay region, including several violent crimes, begins long before and continues up to and after the Barters Island incident.
“I think it’s common knowledge that Michael Brewer is typically referred to as the person with the longest criminal record in Lincoln County,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright said June 20.
The Lincoln County News obtained Brewer’s public criminal history record from the Maine State Bureau of Identification. Wright confirmed that the convictions on the 45-page rap sheet refer to the same man he hopes to convict at trial this summer.
A resident of the Boothbay region for most of his life, Brewer was 17 at the time of his first arrest for resisting apprehension Aug. 9, 1973. He paid a $50 fine.
He was 18 at the time of his first felony, an armed assault on Feb. 24, 1974. He was sentenced to three to 15 years in state prison.
His record picks up again in 1976. He committed several crimes in the next 11 years, including an aggravated assault in March 1979 and assault on an officer in 1982.
In 1988, Brewer would commit the most heinous crime on his long résumé, attempting to kill a woman because she implicated him in a theft.
An Aug. 5, 1997 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision describes the crime. The decision upheld Brewer’s convictions on appeal.
Brewer and friends Lana Benoit and Lisa Plummer were drinking in a Boothbay Harbor bar on Friday, Aug. 26, 1988, according to the decision. Benoit had recently confessed to the crime and implicated Brewer and Plummer.
The friends exited the bar en route to Plummer’s apartment. They were walking across the footbridge when Brewer and Plummer attacked Benoit.
“While Plummer held Benoit down, Brewer kicked and punched Benoit’s face,” according to the decision. “When Officer Daren Graves arrived on the scene, Benoit was lying on the bridge with Brewer leaning over her.”
Brewer denied his involvement, but a jury convicted him of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and terrorizing. He was sentenced Sept. 11, 1989 to 20 years for attempted murder, 10 years for aggravated assault, and 364 days for terrorizing.
Brewer resurfaced in October 2001 with an arrest for misdemeanor operating under the influence.
His record resumes with a series of relatively petty crimes, including two more OUI convictions in 2003 and 2005, as well as several bail violations, a misdemeanor theft in 2002, and refusing to submit to arrest in 2005 and 2010.
Now, Brewer faces felony charges that could send him back to prison for up to 30 years.
The night of Sunday, March 17, 2013, Frank and Alice Schambra were watching television in the basement of their West Side Road home, according to a report by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Terry Michaud.
Frank Schambra went upstairs to investigate a loud noise and footsteps and found a person standing by the front door.
He called out to the person and the person ran away. He was locking the door when two other people grabbed him, assaulted him and threatened to “blow his head off if he didn’t open the safe” in his bedroom.
One of the men “held something to his head,” Michaud said, although it was not clear whether he actually had a gun. The men took money from the safe and returned Frank Schambra to the living room, where one of the men hit him again before both fled.
A few days later, Michaud and Detective Sgt. Ronald Rollins interviewed a housekeeper the Schambras had fired. The woman, an ex-girlfriend of Brewer’s, said she had told Brewer the Schambras had “a lot of money” and two safes at the house.
Another man told Rollins that Brewer had asked him to help steal a safe on Barters Island.
Finally, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory matched a DNA profile from a hat Michaud found in the driveway the night of the robbery to a profile for Brewer in the laboratory database.
Rollins arrested Brewer in Boothbay on April 4, 2 1/2 weeks after the robbery.
He is the only defendant in the case. “We have been unable to positively identify either of the other two individuals,” said Wright, the prosecutor.
A Lincoln County grand jury indicted Brewer on charges of class A robbery and class B burglary May 16, 2013. The robbery charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine; the burglary charge a maximum of 10 years and $20,000.
Brewer pleaded not guilty to the charges July 26, 2013. He is due to appear in Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset for a hearing on a motion to revoke bail at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 26. The state expects to take the case to trial in August.
With Brewer in custody and the charges going on 15 months old, the state will push to take it to trial. “We anticipate moving forward with prosecution and hopefully convicting him … I think our evidence supports the charge,” Wright said.
If the state succeeds, Brewer could face his longest sentence yet.
“I think, with Mr. Brewer’s record, if he’s convicted, that something close to, if not the maximum sentence would be appropriate,” Wright said.
Cumberland Center attorney Thaddeus Day represents Brewer and has a different take on his client’s background and the quality of the state’s case.
“There is only circumstantial evidence tying him to the case, and that’s giving the benefit of the doubt to the state,” Day said. “Brewer asserts he is innocent. He asserts that he was not there.”
The court-appointed attorney also addressed Brewer’s background. Most of the convictions were “back when he was younger,” Day said.
“He’s an older gentleman now, just trying to make his way,” Day said. “He’s not trying to bother anyone.”
Day could have an opportunity to present his defense to a jury as soon as Aug. 11, the next criminal trial date on the Lincoln County Superior Court schedule.
Meanwhile, Brewer has racked up new misdemeanor convictions. He was out on bail when Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Matt Day responded to a complaint at a Bristol residence the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 20.
An intoxicated Brewer threatened Day and approached him, “cocking his right arm back,” Day said in a statement. Day restrained Brewer and, with the assistance of Deputy Richard Woodward, handcuffed him after a brief struggle.
Brewer pleaded guilty to refusing to submit to arrest or detention – physical force and violating condition of release March 6 and received a 43-day jail sentence and a $40 fine. The state dismissed criminal threatening and disorderly conduct charges.
Brewer was arrested again on Sunday, May 11. Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy John Hansen responded to a complaint of “a highly intoxicated male” driving away from Mic Mac Market in Union, Hansen said in a report.
“Contact was made with Brewer at his residence at 31 Payson Road in Union and he appeared quite visibly intoxicated,” Hansen said. His bail conditions prohibited the possession or use of alcohol and required him to submit to random searches and tests.
Brewer refused a test, Hansen said. The deputy arrested Brewer and charged him with felony violating condition of release. He is currently in custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.