A Dixmont man facing criminal charges stemming from a mental health crisis that led to a 20-hour standoff with Maine State Police is free on probation.
On Friday a Penobscot Superior Court judge accepted a plea agreement for 62-year-old Michael Grendell. While Grendell has avoided jail time, he’ll have to find a new home.
Michael Grendell faced charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. They're related to an incident in June, when he chased and shot at his best friend while experiencing a mental health crisis. In court on Friday, expert witness Dr. Robert Riley, a psychologist, testified that Grendell is being treated for major depressive disorder with psychotic features, and that he does not pose a risk to himself or others. Justice Ann Murray agreed, and accepted a plea agreement that suspends a three-and-one-half year prison sentence for Grendell. He'll be on probation for four years.
"I don't think there's anybody who's not satisfied with today's outcome,” says David Bate, Grendell's attorney.
Under the conditions of Grendell's probation, he cannot own any firearms or other dangerous weapons. He's not allowed to use or possess drugs or alcohol. And he must participate in any necessary treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Penobscot County Deputy District Attorney Marianne Lynch says the plea agreement acknowledges the mental health issue at play in the case, and the fact that Grendell accepts responsibility for his actions.
"He's been medication compliant. His physical injuries also render him less likely to be a risk in the future."
Grendell walked into the courtroom with the aid of a cane. He currently uses a feeding tube and has hearing loss. He sustained the injuries after Maine State Police responded to his mental health crisis and became engaged in a 20-hour standoff . Authorities tried to lure Grendell out of his home by issuing commands over a PA system, ramming in a window and, finally, deploying a bomb-carrying robot, which leveled his house. When Grendell emerged from the rubble with a rifle, police shot him three times, once through his cheek.
"He knows he's lucky to be alive,” says Grendell’s cousin, Larry Holmes.
Holmes was among a handful of family and friends who came to the court hearing to support Grendell.
"You don't shoot someone in the mouth — you shoot them in the head, you're looking to kill him,” Holmes says. “And then two in the chest, I mean, have a building fall on ya? Really, he's blessed and he knows it. And I guarantee ya, he's not going to screw this up."
Grendell is receiving help in his search for a place to live. In the meantime, he'll stay with the son of his best friend Lee Bell, who Grendell shot at in the june incident. Bell says he's relieved that his friend is free.
"Right up till now, we've all been really sick about it,” says Bell. “And I'm just really satisfied that things played out the way they did today. Obviously we can't wait to get him back."
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Grendell to raise $2,000 to help him get back on his feet.