DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Michael Toby observed his 55th birthday Thursday in Piscataquis County Superior Court, where he was found guilty of murder for the brutal slaying of his sister Rosalie Shedd, 70, in October 2008.
The Dover-Foxcroft man had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but Superior Court Justice William Anderson said the evidence of Toby’s guilt was “overwhelming.”
In announcing his verdict in the jury-waived trial, Anderson noted that Toby not only struck Shedd over the head repeatedly with a stick he had carried into her apartment, but he also strangled her with a vacuum cleaner cord and then suffocated her with a plastic bag after the siblings had had “words.”
Then, Anderson said, Toby had the presence of mind to take Shedd’s money, use her truck and return it and the keys to her apartment. He further noted that Toby admitted during a police interview that he had killed his sister and had asked for the electric chair, knowing that what he did was wrong.
Anderson continued the case for sentencing pending the receipt of a presentence report requested by Chris Smith of Dover-Foxcroft, Toby’s court-appointed attorney. Toby faces 25 years to life in prison.
“I’m happy,” Shedd’s daughter Melanie Eastman of Atkinson said Thursday after the verdict was announced. Eastman, who discovered her mother’s body, said, “I just want the sentencing to come and get [it] over with.”
Toby, who had moved in with Shedd after losing his job with an Augusta contractor, told police that he had been unable to control his actions the day he killed his sister. He said he felt useless and angry and believed his sister no longer wanted him living with her.
Smith sought to show that his client was severely impaired and was unable to control his impulses because he suffered from depression, paranoia and schizoid disorders, and was agoraphobic. He also noted that Toby was suicidal and had planned to kill himself after the murder.
After the verdict, Toby remained motionless in his seat and left the courtroom, escorted by two guards, without comment.
“He was expecting it could go either way. He’s doing OK,” Smith said of Toby outside the courtroom. Smith said he had not yet talked to Toby about the possibility of an appeal.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said outside the courtroom that he had always felt the prosecution’s case was “very strong.” Considering the level of brutality involved in the murder, he said he expects that Toby will receive a fairly significant sentence.