Man charged with killing wife overheard seeking to plead guilty

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SKOWHEGAN (AP) – Prior to his initial court appearance in the fatal shooting of his estranged wife, Richard Reynolds was overheard saying he wanted to plead guilty and get it over with.

“I don’t need an attorney,” Reynolds later told the judge.

Flanked by his court-appointed lawyer, the 40-year-old Waterville man entered no plea to a murder charge Tuesday in Somerset County Superior Court and was returned to the county jail to await a bail hearing today.

Rhonda Wakefield-Reynolds was shot once in the head Friday at her brother’s home in Fairfield and died the next morning at a Bangor hospital.

The shooting happened on the same day Wakefield-Reynolds planned to file for divorce, according to court records.

Reynolds, who turned himself in to police after the shooting, told detectives that he got a .40-caliber handgun from his older son the night before and put it in his car, according to a Maine State Police affidavit.

The next morning, Reynolds told police, he drove to the Fairfield home, went to a bedroom where his wife was sitting on the bed and shot her.

The couple’s two sons, Jacob, 6, and Matthew, 4, were present during the shooting, according to police, and Reynolds reportedly carried them, one under each arm and sobbing, from the home. He then reportedly dropped them off at the home of his older son’s fiancee before surrendering to police in Waterville.

Wakefield-Reynolds had a temporary protection order in effect against her husband of seven years and had moved to her brother’s home the day before she was shot. Reynolds had also filed for a temporary protection order against his wife.

In seeking a protection order, Wakefield-Reynolds wrote that her husband assaulted her sexually a day before she left him on Dec. 21. He begged her to come home, she wrote, and then became angry when she said she would never return.

In his statement, Reynolds accused Wakefield-Reynolds of using drugs and claimed that he feared for the safety of their children.

Prior to the killing, Reynolds wrote a note to Jacob and Matthew, saying he was doing this to protect them.

After moving out, Wakefield-Reynolds stayed at a Family Violence Project location until she moved in with her grandmother in Fairfield Center. She and the children stayed there until going to her brother’s home.

Reynolds knew where Wakefield-Reynolds was staying because she provided her address aloud during a hearing on the protection order the day before she was shot, according to her brother, Kempton Wakefield Jr.

Reynolds’ former wife, Elizabeth Benner of Swanville, attended Tuesday’s court session, saying she wanted to see for herself that he was in custody.

“He threatened me for 13 years,” Elizabeth Benner said. “I had a restraining order on Richard for eight years. Richard went to jail for assault on me.”

AP-ES-01-17-07 0933EST

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