FARMINGTON — A former state medical examiner testified Thursday in the murder trial of James “Ted” Sweeney that Wendy Douglass suffered many serious head injuries that caused her death July 11, 2017, at her home in Jay.

Sweeney, 58, formerly of Jay, is accused of striking his former, longtime girlfriend with a softball bat while she slept in her bed at her home at 5 Jewell St., where he also lived.

Dr. Clare Bryce, who conducted the autopsy on Douglass, testified in Franklin County Superior Court on the third day of the trial. She said Douglass’ injuries included numerous fractures to her skull, cheek and nose, a ruptured left eyeball and a contusion to the brain.

Douglass, 51, also had lacerations to her lips and injuries to her right hand, according to Bryce, now a forensic pathologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Thursday saw the state rest its case against Sweeney, who in October 2018 pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

Sweeney’s co-counsel, Thomas J. Carey, said Thursday that Sweeney suffers from delusional jealousy that Douglass was cheating on him. Carey said this jealousy was only getting worse.


Carey also said the state had not met its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sweeney killed Douglass.

Justice William Stokes denied the defense’s motion to acquit Sweeney, who was born to deaf parents and has watched American Sign Language interpreters throughout his trial.

Evidence shows Douglass was struck at least three times with a softball bat, Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam told the court. Elam said Sweeney intentionally and knowingly killed Douglass.

Prior to the state’s resting its case, Bryce testified Douglass’ death was caused by blunt force head injuries.  

Christine Waterhouse, a DNA analyst for the Maine State Police Crime Lab, said blood on a sock and T-shirt Sweeney was wearing when he turned himself in — just before 8 a.m on July 11, 2017 — at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn matched Douglass’ DNA profile. 

Blood on a softball bat found hidden behind an upholstered board on the first floor of the house Douglass shared with Sweeney also matched Douglass’ DNA profile, Waterhouse testified, adding Sweeney’s DNA was found on the bat, too.


DNA found on tape used to attach a note to the exterior of the bedroom door where Douglass’ body was found also matched Sweeney’s DNA profile.

That handwritten note, which was entered into evidence, read: “Wendy I love you You ruined my love I already know you cheated. You lie, lie (lie) a lot (Ted).”

Bryce said it was difficult to estimate what time Douglass was killed. Rigor mortis, the stiffening of the muscles, tends to begin setting in three to six hours after death and gradually increases, according to Bryce.

Bryce said when she conducted the autopsy on Douglass on July 12, 2017, the body was showing well-developed rigor mortis.

The defense called Dr. Robert Q. Pollard Jr., also a forensic psychologist from New York. Pollard founded and is director of the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

Pollard, who is fluent in American Sign Language, conducted an evaluation of Sweeney over several days last year. He said Sweeney’s degree of jealousy was extreme.

Pollard is expected to continue testifying Friday morning.

James Sweeney, left, formerly of Jay, and his co-defense lawyer, Walter Hanstein, confer during a break Thursday, the third day of Sweeney’s murder trial at Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington. (Sun Journal photo by Donna M. Perry)

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