My ordeal with Mary Kellett
By Michelle Sayasane
February 3, 2013
The laws of our nation state that the prosecutor cannot force a married couple to testify against each other in the court of law. I have always believed this statement to be true. So, as an American citizen, I chose not to testify against my husband in the Penobscot District Court. It was my personal choice not to take my daughter’s father away from them, and I maintain that I have very good reasons for that choice.
My then husband, Keovilaisack Sayasane, was indeed prone to violence and had a significant drinking problem. To reduce him to those simple statements, though, is neither fair nor accurate.
He grew up in Laos, during the American war with Vietnam. Both his parents were killed during the conflict. There were times that his grandmother, who cared for him after the death of his parents, had to rush him out to hide in the bushes when Vietnamese soldiers came through. Otherwise he would have been killed.
I have no concept of a childhood like that, of living in such a constant state of loss and fear. But imagining myself in that place for just a moment made it easy to understand how he became the way he was. And it informed my decision about testifying against him, even though he had made some real mistakes.
Keovilaisack needed counseling, not jail, and I was not going to be a part of putting him there.
I thought that was my choice to make until I was contacted by the witness advocate for the Penobscot County D.A.’s office. She began our conversation telling me that they were getting ready for the trial against him. I remember the awkwardness of our conversation when I told her that my husband didn’t deserve to go to prison. I told her some of our circumstances and that he wouldn’t do his family any good behind bars. I told her that I wasn’t going to testify against him and that we were trying to work out our differences for the sake of our children.
She seemed to understand where I was coming from and told me she would talk to Mary Kellett, the district attorney that was assigned to the case and that one of them would get back to me about my testimony. What I didn’t realize at that time, was the lengths this district attorney would go through to coerce me to testify.
On July 18, 2011, my world was about to change and wasn’t for the good.
It was in the early afternoon when I received a telephone call from a woman identifying herself as Mary Kellett, the district attorney prosecuting my husband. I told her what I told the witness advocate; that my husband and I were trying to work out our problems and come together as a family for our three daughters. I told her I would not be testifying against him.
She instantly became agitated with me and asked me why I would want such a violent man around my daughters. I told her that it was a misunderstanding between a married couple and that while he was intoxicated he made some poor choices. She then made a statement to me that made my world come tumbling down around me. She asked me if I was aware of my husband past convictions. I stated yes, I know that my husband had a manslaughter charge from when he was a teenager.
She then pasted judgment upon me and asked how I could stay with a man who murdered his first wife. “You do realize that it was his first wife that he murdered?” she asked me. The air was sucked from lungs. My head began to spin. I was stunned and I uttered the word no repeatedly. She began to dispute it with me and said yes he killed his first wife and was sentenced 20 years.
She also stated to me that it was the fastest murder conviction in the state of Maine. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The man that I married and with whom I had three beautiful daughters had killed his wife.
I began to cry, and I remember debating with her about the facts. She told me again that she had personally talked to the Attorney General’s office and she assured me that it was his first wife. I asked her for the name and she told me. It was an Asian name which I didn’t recognize.
I told her his first wife’s name was Pamela, and again pleaded with her to make sure she had the correct information. My husband had told me what had happened to him when he was younger. Had all he’d told me been a lie?
I repeated to her, ‘are you sure you have that right?’ Even though I tried to correct her on her facts, she quickly came back and reassured me that the Attorney General’s office told her the correct information. The only fact that was unclear is where my husband and the mystery wife were married. She again made it clear to me that this was information coming directly from the Attorney General’s office and even though she couldn’t give me the details of the alleged woman, she knew it to be his wife.
I was completely devastated by this information. I couldn’t believe that my husband had lied to me about his life.
Even though I was hearing this information from someone who’s supposed to be a truthful and reliable source, I wasn’t convinced that she was right. When I tried to defend my husband, she became more persistent about what he had done and told me that I could get into trouble if I didn’t tell the truth or if I refused to testify. She went on to say my husband was a dangerous man with a history of violence and he needed to be held accountable for his actions. She even made me feel like I was endangering my daughters by allowing them to have contact with their father.
This woman completely convinced me that I was in danger and I was putting my girls in danger and if I were to continue to allow contact with him. She then told me that Child Protective Services would have to be contacted to ensure the children’s safety. Since I have had a bad experience with CPS in the past, I became concerned about my children and having to deal with them again. I remember feeling confused, hurt and now afraid of helping my husband.
Our conversation went on with more of Ms. Kellett’s insistence that I had to take the stand and help her put my husband in prison.
After that conversation I spent the rest of the day crying and trying to understand why my husband told me such a deceitful lie. I was confused, and refused to listen to him. I believed the words of Mary Kellett and on July 20, testified against my husband.
He was fortunate to have an attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, who actually worked in his best interest and realized what the district attorney’s office did to influence my testimony. He told the judge, Justice Kevin Cuddy, that I wasn’t going to testify against my husband but the lies that I was told by Kellett influenced me to do otherwise.
When the Judge Cuddy realized I was lied to about the details of my husband’s conviction, he dismissed the charges. Later, however, after much debate between Mary Kellett and Toothaker, he changed his mind and declared a mistrial.
All this made the paper at the Bangor Daily News, and with their report I found out that Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, whom Kellett had told the court had provided the information that my then husband had killed his first wife, denied that ever happened. Bangor Daily News reported that, “Stokes said he never provided any information to Kellett that indicated that the victim in the manslaughter case was Sayasane’s previous wife, or even that the victim was a woman.”
I was so overcome and so boggled by the whole ordeal that I didn’t trust my husband or the district attorney’s office. My husband’s past was conflicting with our present. Kellett told me a bald-faced lie. She was so determined to get a conviction that she traced down the affidavit from my husband’s arrest in 1986, so she clearly knew what really happened.
I was betrayed by Mary Kellett, and I also feel that she was allowed to influence me against my husband by witness tampering. I don’t believe that Mary Kellett is above the law. She should be held accountable for her actions. She caused massive emotional distress on me and my entire family. I was without my husband for over a year and my daughters were without their father.
When Keovilaisack was a young teenager he was brought to this country after he was orphaned. At the age of 19, he had a disagreement with a man who was from Vietnam. The disagreement changed course when the man pulled out a knife and attacked him.
Keovilaisack has always stood by his story that this man attacked him, and cut his leg. In his own self-defense, he turned the knife on the man, stabbed him and he later died. When my husband was arrested, he was charged with murder.
The events following his arrest and conviction are another travesty within our judicial system. He did not speak English and was unable to explain himself and wasn’t given an interpreter to help him communicate what really happened during the fight.
He was railroaded into a guilty plea and spent 15 years within our correctional system. When he was released he was quickly detained by Homeland Security, and was given a trial for his citizenship. They decided after his trial that he was an undesirable and revoked his permanent residency. He is now on the detainee list and if Laos ever agrees to take him back, he will be sent back to Laos.
It doesn’t matter that he has American children and ties to our country. He is a man without a country. I should note that he did not ask to come here. He was taken against his will as a boy from a war torn society and placed in a foreign country without any mental health assistance from our government.
When he was attacked by a person whose nationality had been killing his people for generations, including his parents, his panicked instinct to survive took over and his attacker was killed. This part of my husband’s life is important to the entire story. He is still in fear of our government for false imprisonment because it has happened before.
I am telling you my story because I am angry that a woman who has been given so much authority has been allowed to continue this sort of conduct. She is hurting men, women and families in Penobscot county, and she is using the most horrible tactics to do so.
In the near future, with assistance from AVfM, I will be filing a complaint with the Maine Board of Overseers against Mary Kellett for witness tampering. If she was any other person than a Maine prosecutor she would be charged criminally with witness tampering and be held accountable for her actions.
I am hoping that the activists here that have done so much work on behalf of men that are treated unjustly will find it in their hearts to help me gain attention to this case, and to urge the State of Maine to make sure this corrupt woman is no longer in a position to hurt innocent people and destroy families.