FARMINGTON — The murder trial of James “Ted” Sweeney opened Monday with the prosecutor focusing on Sweeney’s obsessive jealousy and the defense pointing to mental illness and deafness as factors in the beating death of Wendy Douglass at her home in Jay last year.

Sweeney, 58, formerly of Jay, is accused of killing his former longtime girlfriend with a baseball bat as she slept in bed on July 11, 2017. The two lived at the house at 5 Jewell St.

He pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in October 2018 and has remained at the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington without bail. 

He waived his right to a jury trial last year, so his case is being heard by Justice William Stokes in Franklin County Superior Court.

In her opening statement, Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam said Sweeney hit Douglass at least twice in the forehead with a softball bat, which contained Sweeney’s DNA.

Elam said the case involves Sweeney’s obsessive jealousy and possessiveness and his belief that Douglass was cheating on him.


Douglass’ mother, Cynthia Mulhern, testified that two to three months before her daughter was killed, Douglass showed up unexpectedly at her house in Litchfield. Douglass told her she was awakened by Sweeney pointing a gun at her and threatening to kill her and himself, Mulhern said.

Thomas J. Carey, one of Sweeney’s attorneys, said Sweeney was delusional and had hallucinations.

“This is a complicated and nuanced case,” he said. “Deafness profoundly affects this case as does mental illness.”

“This sick mind convinced him Wendy was cheating on him,” Carey said. “No one is blaming Wendy. She did nothing.” From all accounts she was a very caring person, he said.

Sweeney’s son, Patrick Libby of Livermore Falls, testified that Douglass and Sweeney were together about 11 years and their relationship was pretty good until the last couple of years.

“We knew there was a lot of tension between the two,” Libby said. “They seemed to bicker a lot.”


Libby testified that on the night before Douglass died his father texted him and asked him to give him a ride to the store to get cigarettes because he didn’t want to drive because he was drinking. Sweeney repeatedly told his son Douglass was cheating on him, but Libby said he didn’t believe it and asked for proof but never received it.

The last text message Libby received from his father was between 7 and 8 a.m. July 11, 2017. It said, “Wendy admitted to cheating on me. I go to jail now,” according to testimony. 

Sweeney, who is deaf, went to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn just before 8 a.m. July 11 and motioned for a corrections officer to give him paper and pen, and wrote a note that he gave to a corrections officer.  

I’m going to jail cause I hurt my girlfriend. I live at 5 Jewell St. in Jay. My name is James E. Sweeney, please check Wendy Douglas(s) at 5 Jewell St. in Jay Maine.  I did wrong,” the note read. 

The weeklong trial will continue Tuesday morning, weather permitting.

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James “Ted” Sweeney, center, is on trial on a charge of murder in the death of his former girlfriend, Wendy Douglass, 51, of Jay on July 11, 2017 while she slept at her home in Jay. Sweeney’s co-defense attorney Thomas J. Carey, right, and a private investigator are seen during a break in the bench trial at Franklin County Superior Court on Monday in Farmington. (Sun Journal photo by Donna M. Perry)

State prosecutors called six witnesses on Monday during the first day of the murder trial against James “Ted” Sweeney, formerly of Jay. He is accused of killing his former girlfriend, Wendy Douglass, 51, of Jay on July 11, 2017 in Jay.  (Sun Journal photo by Donna M. Perry)

James “Ted” Sweeney, 58, formerly of Jay, left, takes a break during a court recess Monday where he is on trial on a charge of murder in the death of his former girlfriend, Wendy Douglass, 51, of Jay on July 11, 2017. (Sun Journal photo by Donna M. Perry)

Wendy Douglass (Submitted photo)

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