August 19, 2019
Midcoast Latest News | Chellie Pingree | Bangor Metro | Paupers' Grave | Today's Paper

Bowdoinham teen to be arraigned on murder charge

Ben McCanna | Portland Press Herald via AP
Ben McCanna | Portland Press Herald via AP
In this March 21, 2019, photo, Dominic Sylvester confers with lawyers during a recess in his hearing at West Bath District Court, in West Bath, Maine. A judge has ruled that the teenager, accused of killing his grandmother last year, will be tried as an adult.

A Bowdoinham teen who will be tried as an adult for the February 2018 death of his grandmother will be arraigned Tuesday on a charge of depraved indifference murder.

Dominic Sylvester, now 18, was 16 when his maternal grandmother, guardian and adoptive mother, Beulah “Marie” Sylvester, 55, was found unconscious Feb. 26, 2018, in the Bowdoinham mobile home the two shared. She later died.

He was charged with depraved indifference murder and entered a “denial” — the juvenile equivalent of a “not guilty” plea. Sylvester has been held at Long Creek Juvenile Youth Development Center in South Portland since he was charged.

His attorneys, Thomas Berry and Meegan Burbank, petitioned the court to have him tried as a juvenile. He was subsequently evaluated by forensic experts for the state and the defense.

Dominic Sylvester called 911 at 8:50 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2018, seeking medical assistance for his grandmother. He initially told the 911 operator that he had found her unconscious and bleeding after he took a shower.

But in an affidavit filed by detectives, Sylvester allegedly admitted to them that “he had struck the victim in the head with a stick.”

During a four-day hearing in March in Sagadahoc County Superior Court before District Court Judge Beth Dobson, Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, who is prosecuting the case, shared details about the nature of Buelah Sylvester’s death for the first time while cross-examining a witness, explaining, “She was struck repeatedly by a stick. Her head was cracked open, she had cracked ribs, bruises and cuts and scrapes on her legs and her torso.”

Testifying for the defense, Dr. Diane Tennies said that Sylvester suffered from severe abuse by multiple adults, including his grandmother, and had lived in “an incredibly chaotic, disruptive environment” from which he finally felt he had to save himself.

Dobson ultimately ruled that Sylvester would be tried as an adult.

A murder conviction as an adult carries a 25-year minimum sentence with a maximum potential term of life in prison.

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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