Nicholas Lovejoy, left, stands with his attorney, Darrick Banda, during an initial appearance on murder charges on Oct. 25, 2019, at Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Lovejoy is charged with killing his girlfriend, Melissa Sousa, at their Waterville apartment. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

AUGUSTA — Lawyers for the Waterville man accused of murdering the mother of his children and dumping her body in their apartment building basement in 2019 argued in court Friday that police overstepped their bounds in questioning the suspect and didn’t give him a chance to speak with an attorney present.

Melissa Sousa Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

Nicholas P. Lovejoy, 31, allegedly admitted to police in those conversations that he killed Melissa Sousa. In motions that Lovejoy’s attorneys have filed, they seek to suppress that confession as evidence by arguing police violated his rights by continuing to talk to him about the case after he said he wanted a lawyer present if they were going to talk about Sousa.

Defense attorney Scott Hess said there was no ambiguity on Lovejoy’s part, when asked if he would waive his rights to have an attorney present or remain silent: “I don’t waive anything,” and later said he wouldn’t talk to police if their questions would be about Melissa.

Hess said Lovejoy told police he wouldn’t talk if he was being recorded on video, which he was, and specifically told detectives that he wanted a lawyer if they were going to discuss Melissa.

“The argument there is somehow ambiguity in any of these statements is just nonexistent,” Hess told Justice William Stokes at the Capital Judicial Center on Friday, in closing oral arguments of a two-day court hearing to consider the motions to suppress evidence before the case goes to trial. “They ignore his answer and just keep plowing through the interrogation.”

The case is scheduled for trial in early May.


Lovejoy’s defense also claims police did not have probable cause to pull Lovejoy’s vehicle over after seeing he had one, of two, rear license plate light bulbs out on a Jeep he used to drive away. He was leaving  the Waterville apartment he shared with Sousa and their twin 8-year-old daughters on the October 2019 day that she was reported missing by friends. The defense attorneys further claim that police then improperly, without a search warrant or permission from Lovejoy, entered the couple’s apartment, which police said they did to check to make sure the couple’s daughters were safe after they were left alone by Lovejoy.

While in the apartment, police say they saw blood-stained items.

Nicholas Lovejoy Photo courtesy of Kennebec County jail

Lovejoy later reportedly confessed to police he killed Sousa, according to court documents filed by Maine State Police Detective Ryan Brockway. Lovejoy allegedly told police Sousa had attacked him and attempted to shoot him, so he retaliated. He claimed she pushed him down the stairs of their apartment building then tried to shoot him but the gun didn’t fire. He said he then picked up the gun and shot her twice in the stomach, then rolled her body in a tarp and wrapped it in duct tape before dumping it in the basement.

Katie Sibley, assistant attorney general and a state prosecutor, countered that Lovejoy, after saying he wouldn’t talk to police about Sousa without a lawyer, then did just that. Lovejoy asked detectives if Sousa was alive and the discussion then continued from there, Sibley said. She said Lovejoy’s answers to police asking if he would talk to them about the case were ambiguous and police continued talking to him to try to clarify what, if anything, he would talk about with them.

Sousa was reported missing by friends and police spoke to Lovejoy outside their apartment, but he refused to let them into the apartment. He said he was there with the couple’s twin daughters.

Police, acting on a warrant, searched the apartment Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, and found Sousa’s body in the basement.


Police watched the apartment and an officer using binoculars said he saw Lovejoy mopping up the kitchen floor, around 11 p.m. that Tuesday. Police took him into custody later that night, when they saw him driving away from the apartment, arresting him on charges of having a loaded firearm in the vehicle. He was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child because he had left his and Sousa’s twin 8-year-old daughters alone in the apartment.

After Lovejoy was arrested, about 20 minutes after he was pulled over by police allegedly because he had a plate light out on his Jeep, Waterville police used a key they found underneath a rock to enter Lovejoy and Sousa’s apartment because, they said, they needed to make sure the couple’s daughters, whom Lovejoy had said were inside sleeping, were safe.

Investigators with Waterville police department and the Maine State Police search the residence at 32 Gold St. in Waterville on Oct. 23, 2019, for clues to the whereabouts of a local woman, Melissa Sousa. Her body was eventually found in the basement and her boyfriend, Nicholas Lovejoy, was charged in connection with her killing. This week the defense was in court seeking to suppress some evidence in the case. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Once inside, police saw multiple items that appeared to be stained with blood. That could be significant to the case, because the blood-stained items — including a pair of boots, some cardboard, a marker and a roll of duct tape — were seen before officers later obtained a search warrant for the apartment and found Sousa’s body the following day.

Hess and Lovejoy’s other attorney, Darrick Banda, said the real reason police entered the apartment the night of Oct. 22 was to look for evidence in Sousa’s disappearance, not to make sure the kids were safe, which the defense attorneys argue was just an excuse to get into the apartment. And they said police had time to get a search warrant, but chose not to, before they entered.

Sibley said that police, considering the totality of the circumstances, were justified in entering the apartment to check on the girls’ safety. The prosecutor noted that two children had been left alone late at night, their mother had been reported missing by friends who expressed concern for her safety, and that Lovejoy had been pulled over by police in a traffic stop with a loaded gun in the front seat of his vehicle.

“Law enforcement’s decision to go in and check on the safety of the girls was reasonable,” she said. “As soon as they were located and it was verified they were OK, law enforcement left the residence. So their actions, under the totality of the circumstances, were reasonable.”


Banda also argued that police had no lawful reason to pull Lovejoy over in the first place. Officer Cody Fabian testified, in earlier testimony on the suppression motions, that he pulled Lovejoy over because his Jeep had a rear plate light out, and because Lovejoy had left the children alone, after being warned not to do so. Fabian said the Jeep had one of two rear plate lights out.

Banda said the remaining light still illuminated the license plate, so police should not have pulled him over.

Family and friends of Sousa say Lovejoy was mentally unstable and could not accept the fact that she was planning to leave him and he would be without her.

Hess said the defense does not plan to call any witnesses with regards to mental health-related issues in the trial.

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