A Morrill man was sentenced to 29 years in prison Friday, Dec. 4, for murdering his romantic rival outside a Swanville residence March 15, 2019.

Austin McDevitt, 24, had pleaded guilty Nov. 25 to the intentional or knowing murder of 26-year-old Shane Sauer.

McDevitt faced a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of suspension.

Prior to the sentencing, both defense attorney Rick Morse and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue recommended a 29-year prison term, citing similar cases. Justice Robert Murray passed sentence and also ordered McDevitt to pay $1,468 in restitution to the Maine Crime Victims' Compensation Program.

Morse said McDevitt had a difficult youth, with significant childhood illnesses, one of which caused him to be paralyzed for a year.

“He had difficulties with his family and he struggled, but he persevered, pushing through adversity,” he said. “He’s been remorseful to me about what happened. … This situation is so tragic on so many levels,” Morse said.

“Unfortunately no matter what happens today,” Bogue said, “we will not replace the life of Shane Sauer.”

Sauer’s father, Ed, she said, was not in the courtroom because his suffering is “unimaginable” reliving the death of his son for the past two years, and “he could not bring himself to do it anymore.”

Justice Murray said there were mitigating and aggravating circumstances that played into McDevitt’s sentencing. The impact the conduct has had on the victim’s family is a significant aggravating factor, he said.

His young age, the issues he has had to overcome in his life already, the fact that he has no criminal history, and most importantly, Murray said, his acceptance of responsibility by entering into a plea agreement, are mitigating factors that outweigh the aggravating circumstances to a certain degree.

McDevitt, addressed the court, saying, “First, I would just like to say to the Sauer family, I am very sorry this all happened. And to my family that has supported me, thanks for everything. I love you very much.”

In an emotional victim impact statement, Ann Sauer, Shane’s stepmother, said that on March 15, 2019, “a piece of my husband’s heart was ripped out of his chest.”

Speaking directly to McDevitt, she said, “you had every opportunity to have Shane arrested for assault, but instead you chose the cowardly way out. … Shane wasn’t perfect, but he did not deserve what was done. Your acts are unforgivable, and you will never be forgiven for what you did.”

According to court records, McDevitt told police he was invited to the house at 568 Oak Hill Road by Jean Howard, the romantic interest of both McDevitt and Sauer, and had socialized with her and her family until 3 a.m., then retired with her to a camper on the property.

McDevitt said he woke up to getting his "ass kicked" by Sauer. The two men fought for "a few seconds inside the camper," police wrote in the affidavit.

In an interview with state police detectives Chris Crawford and Benjamin Sweeney, Howard said she woke up to find McDevitt and Sauer fighting. In a few seconds it was over, she said, and McDevitt went outside the camper.

McDevitt told police that he tucked a semi-automatic pistol he took from his car into the waistband of his pants and waited for Sauer about 25 feet away. He reported that Sauer said "I'm going to (profanity) kill you." In response, McDevitt pulled out the pistol and shot Sauer.

Court records show McDevitt emptied his gun, firing 16 rounds at Sauer. An autopsy found that he had been shot seven times, including three times in the head.

According to an affidavit by Detective Scott Quintero, McDevitt called police 15 minutes later to say he had shot his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend and that the gun was in the glove box of his car parked in front of Belfast Police Department.

McDevitt told police he knew Sauer and Howard had been romantically involved, but believed that they were in the process of breaking up.

After the sentencing hearing, Bogue said outside the courtroom that the state was very happy to have the case resolved. “It is relieving for us and it is relieving for the family. This was the best result for everyone,” she said.

The family, Bogue said, was aware of what the recommendation was today. “They were not necessarily happy with the number.”