A tentative court date has been scheduled for January in the murder trial of a Jay man charged with bludgeoning his girlfriend to death in July 2017, as his lawyers await results of a forensic evaluation.

James “Ted” Sweeney, 57, pleaded not guilty in September to a charge of intentional or knowing murder in the death of Wendy Douglass, 51. The two lived together on Jewell Street in Jay.

Dr. Clare Bryce, at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta, told state police detectives that “the cause of death is blunt force trauma to Wendy’s head. The manner of death is homicide,” according to a court affidavit.

Douglass was a produce manager at Food City in Livermore Falls at the time of her death.

Sweeney was scheduled in March to undergo a forensic evaluation for competency, criminal responsibility and other mental conditions.

Robert Riley, a consultant for State Forensic Services, was scheduled to conduct the examination.

The service provides forensic neuropsychological consultation, evaluation, and expert testimony for cases involving conditions that include substance abuse, intellectual disability and pervasive developmental disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychological conditions, according to the website.

Riley did not return an email immediately Tuesday seeking results of the evaluation, if any were available.

Farmington attorney Walter Hanstein, one of two lawyers representing Sweeney, said Tuesday that the evaluation report is not yet ready and that until it is, there would be no formal comment on the progress of the case.

“We’re still in the process of sorting things out, as to where things stand,” Hanstein said by phone Tuesday. “It’s too early. There is no report yet. It’s absolutely guesswork to say in which direction anything is going.”

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, one of two prosecuting attorneys in the Sweeney case, confirmed the tentative January date for trial, but declined to comment on the forensic evaluation.

Hanstein said it was “fair to say” that the trial would be scheduled for January, but said they were still waiting for the evaluation report before they make another move.

Sweeney was indicted by a Franklin County in August 2017 on a charge of intentional or knowing murder in connection with the death of his longtime girlfriend. After Sweeney’s initial court appearance in July 2017, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese described Douglass’ death as a domestic violence homicide. Marchese said Douglass had been contemplating leaving Sweeney, and “leaving can be the most dangerous time.”

“He was losing control and he killed her,” Marchese said.

Sweeney turned himself July 11, 2017, in at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.

Sweeney, who is deaf, presented a written note at the Auburn jail that read: “I am going to jail cause I hurt my girlfriend,” according to an affidavit that was filed last year with the Farmington court by Detective John L. Kyle II, of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit-South.

The note asked that Douglass be checked on at the Jay residence.

When officers from the Jay Police Department went to the home to perform a well-being check, they found Douglass’ body inside.

Officers interviewing Sweeney’s daughter-in-law, Michelle Libby, learned that he and Douglass recently had broken up but were still living together.

Taped to the door of the room where police found Douglass’ body was another note that read: “Wendy I love you you ruin my love I already know you cheat on me you lie lie lie a lot ‘Ted.'”

Sweeney also went by the nickname Ted, according to Douglass’ daughter, Jessica.

Police did a wellness check at the residence and discovered Douglass’ body in her bed with “significant injuries to her head” and covered with a blanket, according to the affidavit.

When the residence was searched, an evidence response team located a “black wooden baseball bat with red/brown staining” on it, hidden at the base of the stairs leading to the second floor. The red/brown staining came back presumptive positive for blood, according to Kyle’s affidavit.

The baseball bat found in the home is believed to be the murder weapon.

Sweeney remains held without bail at the Franklin County jail in Farmington, which is routine in a homicide case. A Harnish hearing to determine bail has not been scheduled, Hanstein said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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