June 20, 2018
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Ellsworth man pleads not guilty in wife’s Christmas Day beating death

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A local man accused of beating his wife to death in their apartment on Christmas Day has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

Christopher M. Saenz, 30, was arraigned Wednesday in an Ellsworth courtroom on a charge of murder. Saenz was indicted on the charge by a Hancock County grand jury earlier this month.

Saenz has been held without bail in Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth since his arrest on Dec. 27. A hearing to set bail has not been scheduled but can be if one is requested by Saenz or his attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth.

Saenz is accused of killing Hilary Saenz, 29, on Christmas Day in the Central Street apartment where they lived with their two children. Police were notified after the children, a boy, 8, and girl, 12, went to a neighbor’s home and reported that she would not wake up.

A medical examiner determined that Hilary Saenz died on Dec. 25 of blunt force trauma, Maine State Police has said.

According to a court affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Jennifer Fiske, Christopher Saenz told state police that he thought his wife was cheating on him and that he had struck her with his fist and knee in the days before she died.

An autopsy of Hilary Saenz on Dec. 26 indicated that she had deep tissue bruises in different stages of healing on her feet, legs, abdomen, chest, arms, hands and face, according to the affidavit. Her sternum was fractured, her liver lacerated, her lungs bruised and she had “an acute significant subdural hemorrhage to the right side of the brain,” Fiske wrote in the document.

Ellsworth police had previously visited the home on Dec. 13, after a friend of the couple who had been staying with them called 911 to report that Christopher Saenz had assaulted and threatened to kill Hilary Saenz, according to the Maine State Police affidavit. The incident resulted in the couple being separated for the night, the affidavit indicates.

Christopher Saenz has a criminal history that includes convictions for assault, criminal trespass, negotiating a worthless instrument, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, allowing a minor to possess or consume liquor, violating conditions of release and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, according to Maine State Bureau of Identification records.

Despite the allegations of violence in the Saenz home, friends and family said in the weeks after her death that Hilary Saenz was known for having a cheerful and upbeat outlook on life.

Toothaker said Thursday that he does not anticipate requesting a bail hearing for his client because Saenz likely would not be able to meet the financial terms of whatever bail might be set.

A status conference on the case has been scheduled for April 7.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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