ALFRED — A Saco man accused of fatally stabbing a woman in the neck in a Saco supermarket last month has made the highly unusual decision to waive all mental health defenses and plead guilty to murder at the first possible opportunity.

Connor MacCalister, 31, who was born Tanisha Hopkins but identifies as a transgender male, is accused of randomly targeting Wendy Boudreau, a 59-year-old mother and grandmother, at Shaw’s on Aug. 19 and attacking her from behind without provocation.

MacCalister is scheduled to appear in York County Superior Court in Alfred on Oct. 8 for what was initially supposed to be an arraignment, but he has decided to plead guilty and seek to be sentenced the same day, according to court records filed Monday.

MacCalister could not legally enter a plea until after his Sept. 10 indictment by a grand jury on a felony charge of murder. The Oct. 8 hearing will be his first time back in court since Aug. 21, when Justice John O’Neil Jr. ordered him held without bail.

“Connor has elected not to pursue any possible mental health defenses that may exist and instead has decided to take full responsibility for her actions, and intends on Oct. 8 to enter a guilty plea and be sentenced the same day,” MacCalister’s attorney, Robert LeBrasseur, said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

A day earlier, neither LeBrasseur nor the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, would confirm that MacCalister intended to plead guilty. LeBrasseur acknowledged the decision Tuesday after the Portland Press Herald obtained at the courthouse a copy of a notice of a Rule 11 hearing indicating MacCalister’s case is scheduled for both a plea and sentencing.

Rule 11 establishes the process for a judge to accept a guilty plea to a felony.

FAST GUILTY PLEA ‘INCREDIBLY RARE’

LeBrasseur said MacCalister already has undergone a mental competency exam and has been deemed competent to make legal decisions in his case.

MacCalister cannot be prevented from pleading guilty if the judge finds MacCalister is pleading freely, with no outside pressure. LeBrasseur said MacCalister intends to enter the plea with no sentencing agreement in place. Against LeBrasseur’s advice, MacCalister also plans to forgo additional mental evaluations that could be considered during sentencing.

“I don’t know if sentencing will take place (on Oct. 8). It is Connor’s hope that she will be sentenced,” LeBrasseur said. “In this case, the court may delay sentencing to give the prosecution more time.”

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment through Timothy Feeley, a spokesman for her office.

Boudreau’s family also declined to comment.

If MacCalister goes through with the intended plea, it would be before a court-ordered mental examination is conducted to determine whether he has the mental faculty to be held criminally responsible for the crime.

Jim Burke, a professor at the University of Maine School of Law, said it is “incredibly rare” in a murder case for a defendant to plead guilty so quickly after an arrest.

“It is very uncommon, but not unheard of and not totally shocking to me,” Burke said.

Maine State Police Detective Kristopher Kennedy said in a written affidavit filed with the court last month that MacCalister confessed to police in the hours immediately after the murder that he was “angry with life” and “wanted to get back at someone.”

CHOOSING A VULNERABLE VICTIM

Kennedy wrote that MacCalister, who lived a block away from Boudreau, went to the Shaw’s in Saco with plans to kill several people and wanted to target an elderly woman who wouldn’t resist. Police have said MacCalister and Boudreau didn’t know each other.

MacCalister saw Boudreau in the parking lot and followed her into the store, police said. He grabbed her from behind in the ice cream aisle and slit Boudreau’s throat, Kennedy wrote. One of her daughters and a grandchild were shopping in the store with Boudreau, but didn’t see the attack.

MacCalister had lived in a Biddeford group home, an arrangement where two or more individuals, typically with some type of disability, live and receive support from an agency.

Boudreau lived on Bonython Avenue in Saco with her husband, Jeffrey, for more than 30 years. They have adult children and often entertained their grandchildren, neighbors said.

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