WEST BATH, Maine — Prosecutors on Friday charged the 16-year-old grandson of Beulah “Marie” Sylvester with killing the 55-year-old woman in a Bowdoinham mobile home the two shared.
Dominic Sylvester appeared in West Bath District Court for arraignment before Judge Beth Dobson on Friday afternoon in handcuffs but no shackles. The stocky teen sat with his attorney, Tom Berry, as Dobson read the single charge of depraved indifference murder, and Berry entered a “denial” on Sylvester’s behalf.
Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, who is prosecuting the case, said a denial is the juvenile court equivalent of a not guilty plea.
Berry said he had spoken briefly with Sylvester, who was “overwhelmed” but “indicates he understands the charge.”
He said Sylvester learned of “his mother’s death” while at Mid Coast Hospital, where he was taken after the incident.
Sylvester, who will turn 17 later this month, lived at the home with Marie Sylvester, and was in her custody, according to a juvenile petition signed by Elam.
Multiple sources in the community confirmed that he is her biological grandson, but Marie Sylvester was raising him as her son.
Dobson agreed to impound an affidavit in support of probable cause and an affidavit in support of a search warrant, after Berry said the “lurid details” could poison a jury pool.
Elam asked that Sylvester be detained for a number of reasons, including that he has indicated a desire to harm himself.
“There is no place for him,” Berry said, adding that they would agree to detainment at Long Creek Juvenile Detention Center in South Portland, where he has been held since being released from Mid Coast Hospital.
Dobson granted Elam’s request for a diagnostic evaluation, which she said she asked for because she anticipates Sylvester may be bound over to be tried as an adult.
Dobson also granted Berry’s request that Sylvester be evaluated by the state forensic service for “abnormal condition of mind.”
On Monday morning, first responders found Marie Sylvester unconscious in her home at 946 Post Road in Bowdoinham. A Sagadahoc County deputy had responded to a report of a heart attack, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said earlier this week.
On Wednesday, police said Dominic Sylvester had been released from Mid Coast Hospital and arrested. They declined to say why he was hospitalized.
No additional details about the incident were included in public court documents.
Police have not released the cause of death, but original reports on Tuesday stated that Sylvester was the victim of an “aggravated assault.”
Deputy Mike Fitzpatrick found Sylvester unresponsive, and while attending to her, “determined that there was more to the initial call than the reported cardiac arrest,” Sagadahoc County chief sheriff’s deputy Brett Strout wrote in an email.
Elam and Berry declined to comment after the hearing. Members of Sylvester’s family also declined to comment.
The maximum penalty for an adult convicted of depraved indifference murder is 25 years to life.
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Correction: An earlier version of this report included the wrong first name for Tom Berry, Dominic Sylvester's attorney.