ELLSWORTH, Maine — A local man accused of killing his wife at their home on Christmas Day in 2013 will go to trial on a charge of murder next week.

Christopher M. Saenz, 31, allegedly beat Hilary Saenz, 29, to death in their Central Street apartment while their two children, then 12 and 8 years old, were present in the home.

The trial is expected to get under way next Monday, May 18, at Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Justice Ann Murray will preside over the proceeding and, because it is a non-jury trial, is expected to render the eventual verdict.

According to police, an autopsy on Hilary Saenz revealed that she had deep tissue bruises in different stages of healing on her feet, legs, abdomen, chest, arms, hands and face. 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,” Maine State Police Detective Jennifer Fiske wrote in a court affidavit.

Hilary Saenz, who grew up in Bowdoin, was employed by Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and at the local Walmart at the time of her death.

Christopher Saenz told state police after his wife died that he thought she was cheating on him and that he had struck her with his fist and knee in the days before her death. He initially told police his wife suffered a seizure after they had argued over text and social media messages each had received from other people, Fiske wrote in the affidavit.

Saenz told police that during the seizure, he stuck a spatula in her mouth to prevent her from biting her tongue and threw cold water on her and “smacked her” in a failed attempt to revive her.

A friend told police in a separate interview that a few weeks prior to Hilary Saenz’s death, the friend had witnessed Christopher Saenz assault and threaten to kill his wife, according to the affidavit.

Saenz’s defense attorneys, Jeff Toothaker and Robert Van Horn, have indicated that a prior traumatic head injury Hilary Saenz suffered in a 2003 car crash may have played a role in her death. The accident left her in a coma for “several days,” they wrote in court documents.

Hilary Saenz told several co-workers that “she believed she was experiencing short-term memory loss as a result of the 2003 crash and she thought her symptoms were getting worse,” the defense attorneys wrote. Christopher Saenz told police that his wife collapsed suddenly and appeared to have a seizure immediately before her death, they added.

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.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....