DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Michael Toby told police in a 2008 taped interview that he felt he “was at a point of no return” after he had struck his elder sister over the head repeatedly with a stick, so he then strangled and suffocated her.
Toby, 54, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to an indictment of murder in connection with the death of his sister Rosalie Shedd, 70, at her Aaron Drive apartment in Dover-Foxcroft on Oct. 22. Shedd’s body was found the next day by her daughter and a neighbor of Shedd’s.
Toby’s jury-waived trial is being heard by Justice William Anderson in Piscataquis County Superior Court. Closing arguments by Toby’s court-appointed attorney Chris Smith of Dover-Foxcroft and state prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson will be heard today.
During the taped interview aired in court Thursday, Toby said, “something just let go” before he killed his sister. He had recently moved to Dover-Foxcroft after losing his longtime job in Augusta and had stayed in a camper on another relative’s property before moving in with Shedd. He said he felt his sister did not want him there and they had “words” the night of the killing.
Toby said he had supper and left the apartment and when he returned later he carried in a stick — a tree limb about 2-3 inches in diameter. On the tape, Toby recalled standing in the bedroom while Shedd was kneeling on the floor looking over some photo albums with her back to him. “I was so empty … I had no feelings,” he said. “I was trying to reason with myself.”
He said he struggled in his mind whether or not he would hit Shedd.
“Certain words she [Shedd] said just sank in too deep,” Toby told police in that interview. He said he struck Shedd on the head with the stick and struck again and again, at one time so hard it broke the stick. He then walked out into the living room and Shedd, who was bleeding from the head, came out into the hallway. “I gave her a towel” because she was trying to stop the bleeding, he said.
“I felt I was at a point of no return,” Toby said, so he wrapped a vacuum cleaner cord around her neck and strangled her. After that, he said, he took a plastic bag and put it over her head before he dragged Shedd into her bedroom. “It was just like I was in a daze, like none of this was happening,” he said.
Toby said in that interview that he “finally got a little bit of my senses back and realized what I’d done.” He said he knew his sister had money in her pocket, so he took it, but he was adamant that he hadn’t killed her for the money. He said he had grabbed a “suicide” rope and left in Shedd’s truck for a local rental cabin after the killing. Police were told that Toby had stopped at a store where he had purchased a 12-pack of beer and something to eat. He said he dropped the purchases off at the cabin, drove the truck back to Shedd’s apartment at about 9:30 p.m., went inside and left the keys on the table. After locking the door, he walked back to the cabin.
The “plan,” Toby said, was to go back to the cabin and kill himself but the beer put him to sleep instead. He told police that the next day he went into a nearby restaurant, had lunch, and returned to the cabin waiting for police to arrive.
“I did something I truly regret,” he said in the taped interview. “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want them to know I’m not a cold-blooded killer. I’d like to die.”
As the tape neared the end in the courtroom Thursday, Toby became agitated and crushed a paper cup on the defense table with the palm of his hand, prompting a state police detective to move closer to Toby.
A forensic chemist and a forensic DNA analyst from the Maine State Police Crime Lab were among the witnesses who testified on Thursday.