A judge has decided an Acton woman cannot withdraw her guilty plea to murdering her former husband.

The ruling means Kandee Weyland Collind will face sentencing more than two years after she stabbed Scott Weyland in front of their two children. Police said she attacked him in February 2017 shortly after she learned a judge awarded primary custody to him.

Scott Weyland in an August 2016 photo on Facebook

Now 49, Collind pleaded guilty to the murder charge in August 2018, and her attorney said at the time that prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of no more than 32 years. The minimum sentence for murder in Maine is 25 years. But two months later, her attorneys filed a motion to withdraw that plea. Collind told them she did not take her medication that day and was not thinking clearly.

Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas held two hearings on the withdrawal request and issued an 18-page decision last week. He said there is no evidence that Collind did not take her medications that day, and she confirmed in multiple ways that she was thinking clearly during the plea hearing.

“While it is certainly understandable that Defendant was conflicted about the momentous decision she faced, that does not amount to confusion,” Douglas wrote in the July 3 order.

A spokesperson said the Maine Attorney General’s Office would not comment on the case, but that the sentencing cap in the plea agreement remains. Defense attorney Molly Butler Bailey did not return a message at her office Tuesday.

At the hearings, the defense also suggested that Collind did not have the cognitive ability to understand the key element of a murder charge – that she intentionally or knowingly caused her ex-husband’s death. A psychologist testified about her mental health diagnoses and suggested she would have said whatever she thought the judge wanted to hear during her plea.

“There’s a statement that she has made to me many times, ‘I’m guilty, but I’m not guilty,’ ” Butler Bailey said at the June hearing. “I think that’s where the confusion lies, I think that’s what it comes down to. There’s not a question in this case that she caused the death of Scott Weyland. The question is what her condition of mind was at the time.”

Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas addresses defense attorney Molly Butler Bailey during the June hearing. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

But the judge said he gave little weight to the psychologist’s testimony because that person did not attend the plea hearing or discuss it with Collind. He also said she has only raised a potential defense about abnormal state of mind after her plea, even though she was aware of that option before the plea. 

“The primary consideration motivating Defendant to withdraw her plea was likely not based on an assertion of innocence as much as a tactical decision that she might do better at trial than earlier believed and receive a lower sentence than offered in her plea agreement,” Douglas wrote. 

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam told the judge that the two children did not know that their mother tried to withdraw her guilty plea.

“My hope is that this motion will be denied, and maybe they’ll never have to know that their mother reneged on her promise to plead guilty, they’ll never have to worry about having to testify against her,” Elam said at the June hearing.

Douglas referenced the children in his decision, and he noted that Collind initially said she pleaded guilty to spare them from testifying at trial.

“It is difficult to know in the abstract whether the testimony of the minor children would be affected by this reversal of course coupled with the further, inevitable delay of trial,” Douglas wrote. “The state has expressed a concern that memories could fade or be susceptible to other influences if this matter were now to proceed to trial. Much more concerning, however, is the real potential for adverse emotional and psychological impacts that a trial could have on these minor children.”

The sentencing had not yet been scheduled as of Tuesday.

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