July 18, 2019
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Maine teen pleads not guilty to killing grandmother

Ben McCanna | AP
Ben McCanna | 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. Sylvester was 16 when Beulah "Marie" Sylvester was found unconscious inside their Bowdoinham, Maine home. He was initially charged as a juvenile. But a judge's ruling last week means Sylvester, now 18, will be tried as an adult on a charge of depraved indifference murder, which carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

WEST BATH, Maine — A Bowdoinham teen pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to depraved indifference murder in the 2018 death of his grandmother at their Bowdoinham home.

Dominic Sylvester, now 18, entered the plea before Justice William Stokes in West Bath District Court.

Sylvester 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.

Dominic Sylvester called 911 at 8:50 a.m. 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.”

Sylvester’s 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.

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.



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