Joseph Eaton is led into Sagadahoc County Superior Court in West Bath for his plea hearing and sentencing on 27 charges, including four counts of murder and one count of aggravated attempted murder, on Monday. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

WEST BATH — The sounds of soft cries filled a packed courtroom in Sagadahoc County on Monday afternoon as a man was sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting his parents and family friends in a Bowdoin home last year.

Friends and family of Cynthia and David Eaton and Bob and Patti Eger, who died after being shot several times on April 17, 2023, watched tearfully as Joseph Eaton pleaded guilty to the nearly 20 charges against him in Sagadahoc County Superior Court, including intentional or knowing murder, aggravated attempted murder and theft.

Eight people addressed the court with their stories and memories of the victims, and some begged the judge to put Eaton behind bars for life.

“I wake up every day regretting what I did,” Eaton said in court Monday. “I’m still in disbelief. I don’t understand why I did what I did. A life sentence is what I deserve. Honestly, I deserve worse. All I can say is I’m sorry.”

Eaton told the Press Herald in an unusual series of interviews last year that he was not in control of his actions and that his troubled life led up to a “psychotic break” during the shootings on April 17, 2023. He described a history of childhood sexual abuse, drug use and mental health issues. But he said he was not angry with his parents, who gave him “unconditional love.”

Just before the shooting, Eaton’s parents had flown to Maine from Florida to pick him up from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, where he had finished serving a five-year sentence. They stayed at the Egers’ house in Bowdoin, which police found riddled with bullet holes days later.


The morning after the shooting, Eaton told a reporter that he was still feeling the effects of several drugs he had taken after killing his parents and the Egers.

He drove south on Interstate 295 and opened fire on several cars, which he said he mistook for pursuing police officers, injuring 51-year-old Sean Halsey, of Bowdoinham, and his children, Justin Halsey, 29, and Paige Halsey, 26. He then surrendered to police in Yarmouth.

Eaton had stolen several guns from the Egers’ house and one from his mother’s bag, which he used to shoot her and Patti Eger. Police found over $3,000 in cash and checks from the Egers in his wallet.

Eaton initially pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, which angered some family members of the victims. He withdrew the insanity plea in December.

Eaton had said that he wanted to have a forensic evaluation to discover where his violent tendencies come from. When he withdrew the plea, prosecutors were not able to see the results of his mental health evaluations.

As Assistant Attorney General Robert Ellis read a list of injuries the Eatons and Egers suffered, victim witness advocates passed around tissue boxes.


Patti Eger’s brothers, Peter and Scott DeRaps, addressed the court Monday, sharing appreciation for Bob and Patti Egers’ love and compassion as Christians.

“Life has been forever changed,” Scott DeRaps said. “Joseph Eaton, that’s on you.”

Peter DeRaps said one of the hardest parts of dealing with their death was telling his nephew that his parents were murdered. And he said he watched his 95-year-old father starve himself to death out of anger over what happened to his family.

But he said one thing that provided solace as he punched his pillow the night after the shooting was “four pairs of arms” embracing him, saying, “Pete, tell him we love him. And we forgive him.”

Eaton, who was listening quietly, dropped his head.

“Even after their death, they were still watching out for others,” Peter DeRaps said. “May justice be served.”



David Goodsell, who said David and Cynthia Eaton were his best friends, shared memories of motorcycle rides and spending time with their close-knit circle of friends. He told the courtroom that Cynthia Eaton was a “straightforward firecracker” who adored her family, and David Eaton was a Navy veteran who would do anything to help his loved ones.

He asked Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings to punish Eaton to the fullest extent of the law.

Evangeline Kensell asked for the same. She said her car was hit 13 times during the shootings on the interstate, where she was driving to visit her mom, who had suffered a stroke. Kensell said she then pulled over and found Sean Halsey tending to his daughter Paige on the side of the road.

“Once, I thought we were going to lose her, and I told her, ‘You stay here, you listen to my voice,’ ” Kensell said. ” ‘You don’t let the (expletive) win.’ ”

Kensell said she grew up with Patti Eger and the DeRaps family and that she loved them.


Sean Halsey gave a written statement to the assistant attorney general, also asking the judge to give Eaton a sentence of life in prison.

He wrote that he still wakes up at night reliving the scene – the exploding glass and screams of his daughter while his son sat in the car with a hole in his shoulder.

Billings thanked the victims, friends and families for appearing in the courtroom Monday afternoon.

“I can’t really claim to have anything of great wisdom to offer today to provide comfort to the victims and the people who spoke,” he said. “It’s completely lacking. These events seem to be without reason, without mercy, and I myself am without words to put these events in context.”

Billings said he is speechless that Eaton would kill the only people in the community who supported him.

Eaton’s attorney, Andrew Wright, said that by accepting the life sentence, Eaton was taking responsibility for his actions.

“This is a sad day for everybody who is here,” Wright said during Monday’s hearing. “There is no winner in this case.”

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