Brooks man who said he killed wife over muffler argument to be sentenced Friday

Posted Oct. 26, 2011, at 5:44 p.m.
Michael Littlefield (right), 48, of Brooks and his attorney, Richard Hartley, talk at the Waldo County District Court in Belfast on July 1, 2010.
Michael Littlefield (right), 48, of Brooks and his attorney, Richard Hartley, talk at the Waldo County District Court in Belfast on July 1, 2010.
Michael Littlefield
Courtesy of Waldo County Jail
Michael Littlefield

BELFAST, Maine — The man who told police he shot his wife to death last summer because she had nagged him about buying a new truck muffler will be sentenced for her murder Friday afternoon at Waldo County Superior Court.

Michael Littlefield, 49, of Brooks, has made a plea bargain with the state for the charge of intentional or knowing murder of Debbie Littlefield on June 25, 2010. Details were not available Wednesday afternoon in advance of the sentencing hearing. Efforts to reach his attorney, Rick Hartley of Bangor, were unsuccessful, and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said that she would not comment ahead of time on either the plea or the sentence.

According to court documents, Littlefield is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset but will return to Waldo County for his sentencing. Court officials said they expect the hearing to start at 1 p.m. and take at least a couple of hours, as family members and friends are likely to share their victim impact statements about Debbie Littlefield’s murder.

Her obituary stated that she was a “very strong, hard-working woman who always gave it her all in everything she did.” Debbie Littlefield was 49 when she was killed. She was a Belfast native who met her husband in high school and had been married to him for 30 years. She had three children and several grandchildren and worked as a nurse at Residence at Tall Pines, a Belfast retirement home. Co-workers there told the BDN in 2010 that she was very well liked and that her death was a “horrible loss.”

Police wrote in an arrest affidavit released in June 2010 that Michael Littlefield told a friend the night of the crime that he had shot his wife at their Brooks home because she was “ragging his [expletive]” about a muffler he had recently purchased for his pickup truck. He then lay down beside her body and tried to get up the nerve to shoot himself.

Afterward, he went to the homes of his sister and a friend, telling both that he had shot his wife in the head, according to the affidavit. Police who responded to the couple’s Veterans Highway home found Debbie Littlefield lying on the kitchen floor. After locating Littlefield, who was in his pickup truck in Monroe, officers arrested him without incident.

Ellie Hutchinson, an advocate at the midcoast domestic violence nonprofit agency New Hope For Women, said Wednesday that it has been hard for Waldo County to have two domestic violence murders in quick succession, neither of which has gone to trial yet.

Less than a month after Debbie Littlefield was killed, Pamela Green of Morrill was strangled to death, allegedly by her boyfriend, Dennis Edgecomb.

Edgecomb pleaded not guilty and is at Two Bridges Regional Jail awaiting trial, according to his court-appointed attorney, Jeremy Pratt of Camden. That trial might not happen until January or April of next year, he said.

“I think it’s very unsettling [to not have closure],” Hutchinson said. “I think when it hangs on more than a year, people wonder what’s happened. Or maybe think that nothing’s happened, which is even worse.”

She said that the domestic violence hot line received an increase in calls after the two murders.

“I think the impact … in Waldo County was that a lot of people said, ‘Oh my God, that could be me,’” Hutchinson said. “I’d be willing to bet there’s been an increase in the number of protection orders, too.”

Victims of domestic violence or harassment can seek protection orders from the court to ask that their abusers not be allowed to contact them.

According to Hutchinson, some employers in the area have had positive, proactive responses to the murders by creating workplace policies around domestic violence.

“Domestic violence doesn’t stay home. It goes to work, right along with the victims and the abusers,” she said.

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