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Pembroke man convicted of attempted murderer denied early prison release

Stephen Duguay listens to prosecutor Wayne Coull make his case against reducing Duguay's sentence for attempted murder at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord during a sentence hearing on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. Duguay was sentenced in 1996 to 37 to 74 years for attempting to kill two Concord High seniors.

(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

Stephen Duguay listens to prosecutor Wayne Coull make his case against reducing Duguay's sentence for attempted murder at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord during a sentence hearing on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. Duguay was sentenced in 1996 to 37 to 74 years for attempting to kill two Concord High seniors. (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

A Pembroke man convicted 17 years ago of attempted murder has lost his bid to suspend the remainder of his 37½- to 78-year prison sentence, which he sought to care for his disabled father, get married and have children.

In a one-page order last month denying the request, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler said the severity of Stephen Duguay’s crimes and his less-than-stellar disciplinary record outweighed his personal goals and accomplishments made in prison.

“The court is not persuaded that a discretionary suspension of the defendant’s sentence is warranted,” Smukler wrote.

Duguay was convicted in 1996 of two counts of attempted murder and one count each of attempted arson and falsifying evidence. Two years earlier, Duguay and a 16-year-old named Jay Laudarowicz had been camping and drinking near Garvins Falls Road when one of them – the police never determined which one – fired a .22-caliber rifle at a car that had pulled off the road near them.

The bullet struck one of the two passengers in the face, shattering his jaw and severing his carotid artery. The other passenger, a 16-year-old girl, was hit in the face with flying shards of glass. As the victims – both Concord High School students – ran for help, Duguay and Laudarowicz searched the car for items to steal and then tried to set it on fire, according to court records. In court last month, the victims’ families also said the boys tossed the car’s keys into the woods to prevent the students from driving away.

Duguay has served 19 years of his sentence and is eligible for parole in 10 years.

In asking for early release, Duguay told Smukler last month that, “regardless of whether I am forgiven, I will spend the remainder of my life trying to atone for my past acts.” He said he planned to find a job and develop a career as a fiction writer.

The request wasn’t without context. Laudarowicz, who was 17 when he began serving his sentences, has twice persuaded a judge to reduce his sentences, first in 2007 and again in 2011. In Laudarowicz’s case, a judge found he had matured, bettered himself in prison and developed compassion toward others, including his victims.

Duguay, who received a slightly stiffer sentence than Laudarowicz, offered Smukler several accomplishments of his own, including taking a drug and alcohol prevention course and various vocational, mental health and life skills programs.

But in his order, Smukler noted that Duguay has had a history of disciplinary infractions in prison, including one from May in which he was found in possession of unidentified contraband. In 2011, Duguay was cited on three occasions: for damaging state property, for tattooing or possessing the tools to do so and for aiding another inmate in an unspecified violation.

County attorneys and the victims’ families had opposed the sentence reduction. The families said last month that Duguay had failed to take responsibility for his crimes. Assistant County Attorney Wayne Coull said the health of one of the victims – the 19-year-old man shot in the face – was still unsteady; he has a patch on his carotid artery that could give, killing him, Coull said.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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