ALFRED, Maine — A man who killed his mother, stepfather and stepbrother before setting their southern Maine home on fire apologized for his actions but shed little light on his motives before he was handed three life prison terms on Thursday.
Matthew Cushing, 22, described the three victims in loving terms and told the judge that he "hates himself" because of what he did.
"The world today is a worse place because (the three victims) are not in it," he said. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry," he added.
York County Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche said it was the first time he had sentenced someone to life in prison, which carries no chance of parole in Maine. "Any other sentence than life in prison ignores the enormity of the wrong," he said.
Prosecutors said Cushing went to the Old Orchard Beach home with a stun gun and a knife on Feb. 20, 2008, to confront his stepfather about his disintegrating marriage to his mother. In the process, they said he stabbed all three family members and set the fire to cover his tracks.
The family dog, which was trapped in a kennel, also died.
Cushing pleaded guilty last month to three counts of murder and one count of arson in the deaths of Christopher Bolduc, his wife Carol Bolduc, and 15-year-old Joshua Bolduc.
He told state police detectives he was upset that his mother and stepfather were separating and feared his mother could not support herself. Detectives also indicated they found some of Cushing's writings that indicated he had issues with homosexuality, and a prosecutor said his stepfather was involved in a gay relationship.
On the day of the killings, Cushing drove from his apartment in Old Town to the family's home and first tried to talk with Joshua Bolduc.
Under questioning by the judge, Cushing said he became enraged when Joshua compared him to his father's gay lover and then began stabbing the boy.
Cushing choked and stabbed his mother after she returned home and threatened to call police. Later, he used his stun gun to disable his stepfather before stabbing him to death.
The judge cited several aggravating factors including the fact that Cushing stabbed his victims repeatedly in the face and eyes and that there was some level of premeditation. Cushing had used the Internet to research the most damaging places to stab someone.
"Most people who want to have a family discussion do not come armed with a stun gun and a knife," Fritzsche said.
Family members described Cushing as goodhearted and conscientious and said it was difficult to understand what could have driven him into a homicidal rage.
"The Matthew we know and love was not the Matthew in that house that day," said Cheryl Bolduc, Christopher Bolduc's stepmother.
Dick Bolduc, Christopher's father, pleaded for mercy from the judge, saying a life sentence "may fit the crime but it doesn't fit the individual."
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who sought the life sentence, and defense lawyer Joel Vincent both said after the hearing that Cushing himself has psychological problems and doesn't understand what motivated him to kill.
"I don't think he knows," Vincent said. Added Marchese: "I've said from the beginning that we're never going to know."