FARMINGTON — A former Jay man accused of killing his girlfriend in 2017 is expected to enter a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, according to a procedural court order issued Monday.

James “Ted” Sweeney, 58, is charged with murder in the death of Wendy Douglass, 51, on July 11, 2017, at her Jewell Street house she shared with him. He pleaded not guilty to the charge in September 2017.

Douglass was well known in the Jay/Livermore Falls area, working as produce manager at Food City in Livermore Falls for five years before she died.

Dr. Clare Bryce of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta told Detective John L. Kyle II of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit-South that Douglass’ death was caused by blunt force trauma to her head,” according to an affidavit filed with a Farmington court.

A baseball bat found in Douglass’ home is believed to be the murder weapon, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said outside Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn after Sweeney’s initial appearance in July 2017.

Sweeney underwent a forensic evaluation for competency, criminal responsibility and other mental conditions earlier this year. 

A telephone conference was held Friday with Superior Court Justice William R. Stokes, Assistant Attorneys General Leane Zainea and Meg Elam and defense attorneys Walter Hanstein, Thomas Carey and Ashley Perry.

Stokes issued an order stating that “a brief hearing will be necessary in order for the defendant to enter a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, and to possibly waive jury trial.”

No date for the hearing has been set.

A trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 7, 2019, at the Franklin County Superior Court.

Sign language interpreters will be at the courtroom because Sweeney is deaf.

Sweeney has been held without bail at the Franklin County Detention Center since shortly after he turned himself in at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on July 11, 2017. He presented a note that read, “I am going to jail cause I hurt my girlfriend,” according to an affidavit filed with the Farmington court last year.

The note asked that police check on Douglass. Her body was found in her bed with “significant injuries to her head” and covered with a blanket, according to the affidavit.

Sweeney was indicted on the murder charge in August 2017. He has not had a bail hearing.

A conviction on a murder charge carries a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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James Sweeney

Wendy Douglass


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