Dominic Sylvester arrives Friday at the Sagadahoc County Courthouse, escorted by sheriff’s deputies, for his first court appearance in the killing of his grandmother, 55-year-old Beulah Marie Sylvester. Staff photo by John Ewing

WEST BATH — The 16-year-old grandson of a Bowdoinham woman who died this week after being found unconscious inside her home was formally charged with her murder Friday.

Dominic Sylvester, who lived at the home with Beulah “Marie” Sylvester, appeared briefly in West Bath District Court but didn’t speak.

He was ordered held without bail at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, where he has been since his arrest Wednesday.

The official charge is depraved indifference murder, which alleges that the boy “did engage in conduct that manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life and which in fact caused the death of Beulah Sylvester.”

In simple terms, the charge means that even if he didn’t intend to kill her, Sylvester acted in a way that showed no regard for whether she lived or died.

The few additional details that were released Friday did not include the woman’s official cause of death. An arrest affidavit, which typically outlines details in cases like these, was sealed by Judge Beth Dobson at the request of the accused’s attorney, Thomas Berry, who said he feared any “lurid details” might taint potential jurors if the case goes to trial. He asked that a search warrant affidavit that allowed detectives to gather evidence at the home be sealed as well.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam did not object to sealing the documents, in part because the defendant is a juvenile.

Those affidavits can be sealed indefinitely at the judge’s discretion.

Dominic Sylvester mostly hung his head in court. When Dobson asked Berry whether his client understood the charge, the attorney replied, “He’s a little overwhelmed, but he indicates he understands.”

At one point, Sylvester looked over his shoulder at a group of people who had come to watch the hearing. It wasn’t clear who the people were, and they declined to speak to a reporter after the hearing.

Beulah Sylvester, 55, was found unconscious inside her mobile home on Post Road on Monday morning. Police had been called there because of a suspected heart attack, although it’s not clear who made that call. When they arrived, police found she had suffered severe injuries and were investigating them as an aggravated assault before Sylvester was declared dead late Monday at Maine Medical Center.

Detectives spent much of Tuesday inside Sylvester’s home gathering evidence, but no details have been shared publicly. The petition for charges filed with the court indicated that the woman was the teenager’s legal guardian.

Dominic Sylvester was arrested Wednesday after being released from Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. Police have not said why he was in the hospital.

On Friday, the judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Sylvester in anticipation of what’s known as a bind-over hearing that will determine whether Sylvester is tried as a juvenile or as an adult.

He turns 17 later this month. If he’s tried as an adult, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Elam declined to comment on the case. Berry also declined to comment after the hearing.

Beulah Sylvester’s slaying was the first in Sagadahoc County in 15 years, the sheriff’s office said.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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