PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Two men known as the Blackstone Valley snipers were sentenced Wednesday to lengthy prison terms for a shooting and arson 'reign of terror' across northern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.
Superior Court Judge Dominic Cresto sentenced Russell Ducharme to 115 years in prison plus an additional life sentence. He sentenced Peter Trepanier to 95 years plus a life term.
Trepanier, 25, of Burrillville, R.I., and Ducharme, 25, of Smithfield, stood in handcuffs when they apologized and asked for leniency. Both said they knew an apology wasn't enough.
In separate trials this year, Ducharme and Trepanier were convicted of a series of housebreaks, arsons and a two-month spree of random sniper incidents in the Blackstone Valley area of northern Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts in 1986 and 1987.
Cresto said the sniper incidents created 'an atmosphere of fear' across much of Providence County, making victims out of countless people who feared to leave their homes.
The crimes, he said, were 'nothing short of a reign of terror perpetrated by two men for some perverse sense of release.'
'The sanctity of one's own home cannot be overemphasized,' Cresto said. 'One victim said she never goes out at night.'
Four people were injured, two seriously, in the series of at least 11 nighttime sniper incidents around the 1986 Christmas holidays in Cumberland and North Smithfield and Bellingham, Mass. The shootings stopped after Gov. Edward D. DiPrete called out the National Guard to patrol the North Smithfield-Cumberland area.
Prosecutors Eva Marie Mancuso and Joshua Wall had only recommended the defendants be sentenced to 70 years in prison.
Trepanier's lawyer, John Hardiman, asked that his client receive no more than 25 years in prison. Lawyer J. Joseph Nugent Jr. made no recommendation and asked the court for mercy for Ducharme.
Reading from a prepared statement, Trepanier said he is 'a man of strong Christian belief and a hard worker.' He said he learned his lesson and vowed never to get into trouble again. He said he took the first step toward rehabilitation when he turned himself in.
'I am asking you, your honor, to take the second step for me. And that is the solution,' Trepanier said.
Ducharme told Cresto: 'I realize there is nothing I can say or do to make anybody feel better. I really am truly sorry for the things I have done,' he said, and started to cry.
Trepanier was convicted Feb. 11 of 27 out of 35 counts in connection with six shootings, six housebreaks and three arsons.
Ducharme was convicted June 2 of 30 of the 36 charges against him in connection with eight shootings, six housebreaks and two arsons.