AUBURN, Maine — A 21-year-old Lewiston man pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge in the slaying of a New Gloucester woman whose body was found last month buried in the basement under the man’s apartment.
Bob W. Ryder of 417 Main St. shuffled into Androscoggin County Superior Court, his ankles shackled and his hands cuffed in front of him.
Ryder answered to the murder count handed up earlier this month by an Androscoggin County grand jury after waiving a reading of the indictment.
“Not guilty, your honor,” he said, standing behind a table next to his attorney, Justin Leary. A short time later, he was led out of the courtroom and back to jail by uniformed county corrections officers.
His indictment was amended to read “Bob,” instead of Robert, as his first name.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese told Justice Mary Gay Kennedy that Ryder was being held without bail. Last month, her colleague, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, had sought a hearing to discuss bail. That likely won’t be necessary, following his grand jury indictment.
Because the charge of murder was formerly a capital offense in Maine, the state can seek to block bail for a murder defendant. The state would first have to prove that there is probable cause to believe that Ryder committed a former capital offense, Benson had said. Second, the state must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that Ryder is a flight risk, a risk to himself or others or a risk of danger in the community.
Marchese said Thursday that she and Leary had asked for a mental examination, aimed at assessing Ryder’s competency to continue with court proceedings on the charge. According to state law, the State Forensic Service must perform the exam within 21 days of the court order and has 30 days from the time of the court order to report its findings to the court because Ryder is in jail.
Ryder was indicted on a count of intentional or knowing murder stemming from the discovery of decomposing remains, found by Maine State Police, that were partially buried in the basement under Ryder’s apartment.
The victim, Danita Brown, 38, had been missing for several weeks. In an affidavit written by a police detective, Ryder admitted he had hit Brown in the head with a clock and hid her body in the basement. He reportedly had told his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor about the incident and had shown him the body. That sponsor went to police roughly two weeks later at the urging of his own sponsor.
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