ROCKLAND, Maine — Steven Pomeroy pleaded guilty in Knox County Superior on Monday morning to the stabbing death of 22-year-old Jessica Marie Nichols last July.
Pomeroy, 24, of Hope waived his right to a jury trial on charges he committed “intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder” when he struck Nichols with a frying pan on July 2, 2008, at his apartment in Hope.
Pomeroy stood quietly, wearing shackles and a sweat shirt, before Justice Donald Marden as Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea gave a brief summation of the state’s evidence against him.
“He struck Jessica Nichols on the head with a frying pan,” Zainea said. “The defendant said he stabbed her with a knife. He didn’t try to help her, because he thought she was dead. … He said he undressed her, because he wanted to see what she looked like naked.”
Pomeroy had told police after the crime that he and Nichols had been “drinking and fooling around” at his apartment at 30 Pearse Road in Hope the night of July 1, 2008. He had drunk 18 beers over the day and night, Zainea told the court. When Nichols made a comment about his ex-fiancee, Pomeroy lost his temper and bludg-eoned and stabbed the young woman, police reported.
She died of multiple sharp- and blunt-force injuries, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
After cleaning up the blood in his apartment with a mop, Pomeroy put Nichols’ body in the trunk of his car and left the knife used to kill her in his kitchen sink, Zainea said.
He drove to a South Hope store the next morning, July 2, where he saw a friend, William Brown, and said he had killed somebody.
“He started to pray and God told him to do the right thing, to turn himself in,” Zainea said at the hearing, describing Pomeroy’s state of mind.
State police Trooper Jeremiah Wesbrock of Troop D Barracks in Thomaston arrived that morning at the address where Pomeroy had driven his car. Wesbrock and Knox County sheriff’s deputies found a bloody, naked body in the fetal position in the trunk. Pomeroy was arrested at the scene.
Sentencing for Pomeroy, 24, will take place in about a month. Until then he will continue to be held without bail at Knox County Jail, where he has been since his arrest.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Monday that his office prefers not to discuss sentencing recommendations until after communicating with the judge, but that a guilty plea to murder brings with it a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Maine does not have the death penalty, but a life sentence does not carry the possibility of parole.
Jury selection for a murder trial had been scheduled to take place Monday, but Pomeroy decided instead to change his plea to guilty. At his indictment in Knox County Superior Court last October, he entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of depraved indifference murder on grounds that he was not criminally responsible at the time he killed Nichols.
Pomeroy’s attorney, Philip Cohen of Waldoboro, said after Monday’s hearing that Pomeroy “just wanted to accept responsibility. He actually wanted to do that since Day One.”
According to Cohen, the events of July 2, 2008, were without precedent in his client’s life.
“He has no history of violence,” Cohen said. “He’s never been in a fight and has an extremely minor criminal record. Everybody that knew him was surprised by this.”
Pomeroy had not yet contacted Nichols’ family, Cohen said.
“It wouldn’t have been appropriate at this point,” he said.
Friends and family members in the courtroom declined to speak to the press.