December 18, 2018
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Winthrop teenager pleads guilty to slaying parents, dog on Halloween

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Winthrop teenager admitted Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center to killing her parents and the family dog on Halloween 2016.

Andrew Balcer, 19, of Winthrop, who is transgender and uses the name Andrea, pleaded guilty to two counts of intentional or knowing murder and one count of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Dressed in green jail clothes, Balcer hung her head and wept as the prosecutor told the judge how the teenager had murdered her mother and father — Alice and Antonio Balcer, both 47 — by stabbing them each multiple times. Balcer spared her brother’s life.

A plea agreement with the Maine attorney general’s office calls for the prosecution to recommend Balcer be sentenced to 55 years in prison. Balcer’s attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, will be free to argue for less time in prison.

Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings accepted the plea agreement and convicted Balcer of the charges. The judge said the sentencing most likely would be in November.

Balcer did not make a statement Wednesday about her motive for the slayings. McKee told reporters outside the courthouse that his client’s struggle with gender identity and allegations that she was sexually abused by her mother as a teenager would be part of the defense’s sentencing presentation.

“She has indicated some issues with respect to transitioning from the gender assigned at birth [as a trigger for the crimes],” he said.

McKee did not tell reporters how much time he would recommend Balcer spend behind bars but said it would between the mandatory minimum of 25 and the 55 years the prosecution would ask be imposed.

Balcer was about six weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she stabbed her parents and the family chihuahua, according to court documents.

Because Balcer was a juvenile when she committed the crimes, she cannot be sentenced to life in prison, Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis said outside the courthouse.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison,” he said.

If Balcer had been 18 when she committed the two murders, she could have been sentenced to life in prison under Maine law.

Ellis said that the prosecution would address the sexual abuse allegations at sentencing.

“Our position is basically that we do not accept that as reality,” Ellis said.

Balcer was struggling with gender identity issues and believed her parents would not accept her, according to Dr. Debra Baeder, Maine’s chief forensic psychiatrist.

Baeder testified at a two-day hearing in October 2017 held to determine if Balcer would be tried as an adult or as a juvenile.

In one of her sessions with her, Balcer said, “‘Maybe I should be someone else. Maybe, I should be a woman,'” the doctor testified.

“‘I couldn’t be as flamboyant as I wanted. I couldn’t dress the way I wanted,'” she testified Balcer told her about her perceived conflict with her parents.

In an audio interview with police played at the hearing, Balcer told police that she stabbed her mother repeatedly in the back while she was hugging her, then stabbed her father and, finally, the dog because it would not stop barking.

Alice Balcer was stabbed nine times and Antonio Balcer was stabbed a dozen times, according to the autopsy report.

A District Court judge ruled last November she should be tried as an adult.

Balcer has been held without bail at the Kennebec County Jail since then and will continue to be held there until she is sentenced.

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