Patrick J. Maher appears at a Zoom videoconference Wednesday in 8th District Court in Lewiston. Seen from the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, he is being held on two murder charges in the deaths of a Turner couple in their home last week. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A judge ordered Wednesday that a Turner man accused of killing his landlord couple last week undergo mental evaluations for competency to stand trial and to gauge his state of mind at the time of his alleged criminal conduct.

Patrick J. Maher, 24, of 419 Turner Center Road appeared in 8th District Court by videoconference from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where he was dressed in a green safety smock worn by inmates on suicide watch.

He is charged with two counts of intentional or knowing murder.

Justice Valerie Stanfill told him the sentence for murder ranges from 25 years to life in prison.

Maher said he understood the charges and sentences.

Because he hasn’t been indicted by a grand jury on the charges, he wasn’t asked to enter a plea Wednesday.

Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam appears at a Zoom videoconference Wednesday in 8th District Court in Lewiston for the case of Patrick J. Maher of Turner. Maher is charged with murder in the deaths of a Turner couple last week. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

Mayer was taken into custody Friday in the killings of Troy Varney, 52, and Dulsie Varney, 48, at their home on Knight Farm Road.

Authorities were responded to the Varney home about 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Initial reports described two victims, a man and a woman, who had been stabbed multiple times.

A Varney family member said Maher had rented a room from the couple. She said that in recent days, Dulsie Varney had become afraid of Maher, although the circumstances around that were not immediately clear.

Several sources said Troy Varney had fought off Maher at the scene and kept him from fleeing until deputies arrived.

The couple died at a Lewiston hospital.

Henry Griffin, defense attorney for murder suspect Patrick J. Maher of Turner, participates in a Zoom videoconference in 8th District Court in Lewiston from his office in Auburn. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

No clear motive for the killings has been offered.

Stanfill ordered Maher held without bail pending a hearing on probable cause to arrest and charge him with the crimes and whether Maher would pose a threat to the community if released on bail.

Defense attorney Henry Griffin told the judge: “My sole interest is in making certain that both competency and condition of mind are examined as quickly as possible given that his state of mind at the time of any alleged incident is of utmost importance in terms of such an evaluation.”

Griffin sought to have the judge impound all affidavits in the case, including a sworn statement by authorities in support of probable cause to arrest Maher on the murder charges.

Stanfill said she would impound those documents for one month, then revisit the request at that time.

Maher, a lifelong Turner resident who has no criminal history in the area, escaped with minor injuries.

Troy Varney operated a fourth-generation dairy farm and was owner/operator of T.W. Varney Excavation. Dulsie Varney worked as a nursing instructor at Lewiston Regional Technical Center.

Their two daughters survive them.

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