AUGUSTA — A multi-day hearing is set this week to determine whether Andrew T. Balcer should face trial as an adult on charges of killing his father and mother almost a year ago in their Winthrop home.

Balcer was a senior in high school and about a month shy of his 18th birthday when the slayings occurred early on Oct. 31, 2016.

The state charged the boy, then 17, with two charges of knowing and intentional murder, one for the death of his father, Antonio Balcer, and one for the death of his mother, Alice Balcer. Both were 47 and died of stab wounds.

The state filed a petition Nov. 1, 2016, seeking to have Balcer, now almost 19, tried as an adult, meaning he could face life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted.

Balcer’s defense attorney, Walter McKee opposes that move.

“There is no question that this was a terrible tragedy,” McKee said in an email sent Monday. “What remains to be seen — and which will be the subject of the hearing — is just what happened that night and why it happened.”


A hearing on the state’s petition is scheduled to begin Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Central before Justice Eric Walker.

The hearing is open to the public, but Walker, in an order on media coverage dated Friday, said that because the case is currently a juvenile one, there can be no cameras in the courtroom.

McKee earlier did not object to the state’s request for a diagnostic psychological evaluation of Balcer, a step required by statute because the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam, has sought to have Balcer treated as an adult in court.

Walker had ordered Balcer held at Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland after finding probable cause to believe that Balcer had committed an act of murder that would be a class A, B or C crime — a felony — if committed by an adult. A police affidavit filed in the case and made public in early January said that Balcer called 911 to say that he had killed both parents and a family dog. He was arrested that same morning.

Balcer told a dispatcher that he had stabbed his parents and they were “beyond help and definitely dead,” according to the affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot.

Alice Balcer was found in her bedroom, face down with a stab wound in her back, and Antonio Balcer, who was found in the kitchen, had 13 stab wounds to his chest and torso, according to the two-page document.


On the morning of Balcer’s arrest, police found a combat-style knife stuck into the floor near where his father’s body was found and a handgun on the kitchen counter that appeared to have red-brown stains on it, according to the affidavit.

The document did not indicate the role those weapons may have played in the murders.

When police initially arrived at the home that morning, Balcer was wearing a white t-shirt, gray sweatpants and gray Skechers loafers and the clothes appeared to have wet, red-brown stains on them, according to the affidavit.

“Andrew Balcer exited the residence and was taken into police custody without incident,” Chabot wrote. “While lying on the ground, Andrew requested that they (the police) make sure his brother is ‘OK.’ Andrew uttered that ‘his brother is going to need counseling after this.'”

In the days after Andrew Balcer’s arrest, a school official described him as a gifted student. Friends, a family member and a co-worker described the Balcers as a close-knit family and expressed shock that such a tragedy could have occurred in their household.

Balcer has been in court several times over the past year, but the hearings were just a few minutes long. Each time, a number of family members have watched the proceedings. They declined to speak to the press.


Balcer’s brother was interviewed by a reporter in February 2017. Christopher Balcer said he was staying in a bedroom basement and heard a commotion and someone yelling “No.”

He said he went upstairs and found his brother standing over his father with a knife, and that when he went to try to call police, his brother followed him downstairs and asked him twice if he wanted to die.

Christopher Balcer said he begged for his life, and his brother let him leave. Christopher Balcer also said he had no idea why the slaying occurred.

Maine law lists the criteria for finding that a juvenile should be prosecuted as an adult. It says that a judge “shall bind a juvenile over for prosecution as an adult” in a murder case if there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed it, and after evaluating the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s characteristics, including history, age and “emotional attitude and pattern of living.” In a case involving murder, the defense has the job of establishing that it would not be appropriate to try the defendant as an adult.

The law also states that once bound over, a defendant who turns 18 must be detained in an adult jail.

The state has sought to have others who were juveniles when they were charged with murder or manslaughter tried as adults.


In November 2005, the state sought to bind over Patrick Armstrong, then 14, of Fayette, in the Nov. 26, 2005, bludgeoning death of a neighbor, Marlee Johnston. McKee, who represented Armstrong, did not object to him being tried as an adult.

Armstrong pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was ordered to serve an initial 15 years, and the remaining 10 years was suspended while he serves four years probation.

In earlier cases, children as young as 16 faced trial for murder as adults in Maine.

In 1989, two 16-year-olds from Norway were prosecuted as adults in the killing of an 82-year-old farmer. The same year, a 16-year-old from West Enfield was tried as an adult in the slaying of an 8-year-old girl.

And currently a judge in Portland is reviewing a case where Anthony Sanborn Jr. was convicted of the May 1989 murder of a 16-year-old girl. Sanborn himself was 16 at the time, and claims he is innocent.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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