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AYER — The word on the street is that a five-year prison sentence isn’t punishment enough for the 2005 beating death of 19-year-old Kelly Proctor.

That sentence, for involuntary manslaughter, was given to 23-year-old twins Daniel and Peter McGuane last Friday. Counting time already served, they should be out in three years.

Asked if the sentence is just, former Ayer resident Molly Merrow was one of many on Main Street who said it should have been stiffer.

“They should have gotten a lot more,” she said. “These bullies are going to be out on the street in a couple of years. Have they learned anything from this?”

Proctor died following a brief altercation with the much larger twins on July 2, 2005. He’d been walking home from the local fireworks display with his girlfriend at the time.

Police Chief Richard Rizzo is among those who believe the twins didn’t intend to kill Kelly Proctor, but he said the egregious nature of their assault created a situation that could easily cause serious injury.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and Rizzo agreed with the prosecutor’s suggested sentence of 10 to 12 years. He said the judge cited sentencing guidelines when granting the lesser term.

“I’m a little disappointed in the sentence,” he said. “The McGuanes deserved more time.”

While that sentiment is somewhat widely spoken, it’s by no means unanimous.

By all accounts, the McGuanes are a large family with local roots that go back to when Ayer was founded. The twins’ parents, Paul “P.K.” and Carol, are reportedly well-liked within the community.

Among those with lengthy ties to the family is resident Robert Hughes, who wouldn’t comment on the sentence, but said the circumstance is tragic for all involved.

Having known generations of McGuanes through the Rotary Club and other community functions, Hughes termed the parents hard-working and civic-minded people. He acknowledged the support they’ve been shown through this tragedy and expressed hope that could inspire the twins to work toward some sort of redemption.

“Maybe that can turn these boys around — their parents’ good reputation,” he said. “Perhaps from this point on they can really strive to go in the right direction.”

There were also a number of people on Main Street who declined to comment on the case. The most frequently cited reasons for taking a pass are friendship with the family and concerns about retribution.

On a similar note, police logs indicate patrols have been stepped up in the neighborhood of the Proctor and McGuane households. Rizzo said that’s being done to make the neighborhoods are safe and ensure no trial-related trouble arises. To date, he said there haven’t been any incidents.

Overall, Rizzo said he’s happy the case is closed.

“I’m glad there’s closure on this,” he said. “Hopefully the town can kind of get back to normalcy, so to speak. It’s been tough for the town to deal with, on both sides.”

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