Inmate seeking to use Maine's 'death with dignity' law charged with 12 counts of rape

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Jan. 26—A Milbridge man convicted of attempted murder for shooting two men while robbing a drug dealer's house in Trenton, now is facing charges in Penobscot County that he sexually assaulted a child in the 1990s.

Larry W. Smith, 52, says he has terminal cancer and that he wants to be allowed to use Maine's death with dignity law while serving his sentence for the December 2020 robbery.

In Penobscot County, Smith is also facing six counts of Class A gross sexual assault in which the victim was younger than 14 years old and six counts of Class B gross sexual assault in which the victim was under the age of 18, according to the Penobscot County Deputy District Attorney Mark Rucci. Smith was responsible for the victim's long-term care and welfare at the time of the assaults, which are alleged to have occurred between 1994 and 1996, Rucci said.

Smith made his initial appearance on the latest charges in Penobscot County Superior Court on Monday.

Earlier this month, Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but eight years suspended for his role in the December 2020 robbery of Shelby Kleffman's home in Trenton, in which he and his wife Sherry Smith stole two safes out of Kleffman's closet that contained between $5,000 and $10,000 cash. He pleaded no contest in that case.

His 50-year-old wife was sentenced in November to an overall sentence of 15 years with all but eight years suspended and four years of probation after she is released.

Kleffman, the woman whose house the Smiths robbed, later was charged with drug trafficking by the FBI and then pleaded guilty in federal court in Massachusetts. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2022.

Larry Smith told the Ellsworth American weekly newspaper last month that he has stage 2 throat cancer, and would like to take his own life by taking a lethal physician-prescribed cocktail of drugs, which is allowed by state law.

The death with dignity law, which Maine adopted in 2019, is aimed at allowing adults with a terminal illness who are deemed mentally competent to obtain life-ending medication from a doctor. If allowed, it would be the first time an inmate has accessed the right, Anna Black, a spokesperson for the state Department of Corrections, told the Ellsworth American.

Smith's criminal history stretches back to the late 1980s, according to records on file with the state. Prior to 2000, much of it consisted of misdemeanor thefts and assaults.

In March 2000, Smith was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended and six years of probation on felony charges of arson, burglary and theft for his role in a fire that destroyed a Holden pizzeria in August 1999.