News Article Details

Defense rests in Jay murder case, closing arguments to be heard Monday

Sun Journal - 1/14/2019

Jan. 12--FARMINGTON -- Psychologists who evaluated the mental health of a former Jay man on trial for murder in the death of his former girlfriend reached different conclusions, they told the court Friday.

Dr. Robert Q. Pollard Jr., who testified for the defense, said that after reviewing all of the data and conducting tests, he deemed James "Ted" Sweeney, 58, to be suffering from schizophrenia.

Sweeney is charged in the death of Wendy Douglass, 51, who was killed with a softball bat at her home on July 11, 2017. The two lived together at 5 Jewell St. in Jay. They had been together off and on for about 10 years and had broken off their relationship in June but still lived together.

Pollard testified Friday that in the early-morning hours of July 11, Sweeney was feeling suspicious, confused, angry, tense, forgetful and panicky. Sweeney reported that those emotions increased, Pollard said.

He said Sweeney had been drinking the night before and reported that he took half of a Viagra pill at about 1 a.m., had sexual relations with Douglass at about 2:30 a.m., had a cigarette at about 3 a.m. and at 3:30 p.m. he saw Douglass's phone light up and saw a text that read, "gone."

Sweeney said he was in shock, the psychologist testified. He said Sweeney described smoking and thinking more. He picked up a bat and paced for an hour. He said he heard a dragon's voice and a horn in his head. At about 4:30 a.m. he yelled, "You lied," and hit Douglass in the head three times with a bat.

He reported his thoughts were that if he hurt Douglass, he would get the mental health help he needed and it would stall any other relationship she could have, Pollard said.

After the attack, Sweeney said he put out the dog, placed a blanket on Douglass, wrote a note and posted it on the bedroom door so police would find Douglass and help her, Pollard said.

He said Sweeney checked Douglass before he left and she was warm and he believed she was alive. Before he drove to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, he typed an email to a minister, took his laptop to a son and texted two sons that he was going to jail. Just before 8 a.m. he wrote a note that asked corrections officers to check on Douglass because he hurt her.

The defense has argued that Sweeney had delusional jealousy that was getting worse and believed Douglass was cheating on him, even though people told him it was ridiculous. He was climbing trees, putting up cameras, wearing wigs, borrowing cars and following Douglass around, co-defense attorney Walter Hanstein said.

Sweeney took a mental health leave of absence from work in the spring, and was shocked when he learned at the jail that Douglass was dead, Hanstein said.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said Sweeney knew exactly what he was doing. He was obsessed with jealousy that Douglass was cheating on him, she said.

In testifying for the state, Dr. Robert Riley said there was no mention of hallucinations or delusional jealousy in any of the medical reports he read. He described Sweeney as being pleasant to work with, friendly, cooperative and he made eye contact often when he met with him.

Sweeney, who is deaf, reported hearing noises and feeling pressure in his head, he said.

Riley said he believed Sweeney has anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, likely from a bad childhood.

Sweeney pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in October 2018. A conviction on the charge carries a minimum 25 years to life in prison.

Closing arguments in the non-jury trial are scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at Franklin County Superior Court. Justice William Stokes said he will render his verdict Feb. 1.

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(c)2019 Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

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