Nicholas Lovejoy reacts Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta as a prosecutor reads a detective’s narrative of the shooting death of his longtime partner, Melissa Sousa. Lovejoy entered a conditional plea of guilty for the 2019 murder of Sousa at their Waterville apartment. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Nicholas P. Lovejoy pleaded guilty to murdering Melissa Sousa, his longtime girlfriend and the mother of their two daughters, in Waterville in 2019.

Nicholas Lovejoy entered a conditional guilty plea Wednesday for the 2019 murder of his longtime girlfriend, Melissa Sousa, at their Waterville apartment. At right is defense attorney Scott Hess at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

His sentence, as part of a plea agreement, will be capped at a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Lovejoy, 31, of Waterville, pleaded guilty to intentional and knowing murder in the death of Sousa, whose body was found by police in the basement of the Gold Street apartment the couple shared with their twin daughters.

His guilty plea, entered Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center, was conditional, as it reserves the right for Lovejoy and his attorneys to appeal Superior Court Justice William Stokes’ previous ruling on their motion to suppress evidence in the case. If they’re successful in that appeal, he could withdraw his guilty plea.

Lovejoy admitted to police during interviews that he killed Sousa, according to court documents filed by Maine State Police Detective Ryan Brockway. He claimed she attacked him and pushed him down the stairs of their apartment building, then tried to shoot him, but the gun didn’t fire. He claimed he then retaliated, picking up the gun and shooting her twice in the stomach, then rolling her body in a tarp and wrapping it in duct tape before dumping it in the basement. Her body was found buried under a pile of trash, prosecutors said.

Police, acting on a warrant, searched the apartment on Oct. 23, 2019, and found Sousa’s body in the basement. She was 29 and working at Dunkin’ Donuts at the time.


Authorities later determined Sousa had been shot four times by a handgun found in the couple’s kitchen. The gun was determined to have Lovejoy’s DNA on it.

Katie Sibley, an assistant attorney general prosecuting the case, said evidence shows the four shots were fired into Sousa from between 2 and 5 feet away. Previous court documents had indicated Sousa was shot twice.

A long, ongoing series of disturbing texts and social media messages from Lovejoy to Sousa in the weeks preceding her death, read by Sibley in court Wednesday, showed Lovejoy was enraged that Sousa was having an affair with another man. They included photographs of Lovejoy with guns, including one in which one of their daughters was visible in the background.

He threatened her, and the man she was allegedly having an affair with, both in person and via text or Facebook messages. Those threats include an argument with Sousa recorded on audio, on which Lovejoy “can be heard racking a gun and saying he has two options, ‘Kill you before I do that, or kill you before I do that,‘” a friend of Sousa told police.

He also sent a photograph on Sept. 28, 2019, in which he was holding an assault rifle. He wrote that he was not losing her, and the rifle was loaded and ready to go and it was “your choice baby girl.”

After one incident, Sousa said Lovejoy put a gun to her and she was almost killed. He responded that next time, she would be.


The night of Oct. 21, 2019, a home surveillance system in the couple’s apartment, which police said was always recording, was shut off just before midnight and not turned back on until 8:43 a.m.

That day, Lovejoy took the couple’s then 8-year-old twin daughters to McDonald’s, where he messaged her phone four times, asking where she was and when she was coming home. He also streamed a video on Facebook live, with one of the daughters asking on the video if maybe their mom was home, sleeping.

Lovejoy will be sentenced at a later date, in about 60 days, according to Stokes.  His plea agreement with state prosecutors caps the amount of time he can be sentenced to prison to 45 years, though his lawyers can argue for less time than that.

Melissa Sousa Contributed

In Maine, murder is punishable by a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison. Stokes noted in Maine a life sentence typically means serving in prison for the rest of your natural life, with no probation or parole.

Family and friends of Sousa say Lovejoy was mentally unstable, had threatened Sousa with firearms before and could not accept the fact that she was planning to leave him and that he would be without her. But Lovejoy’s attorneys, Scott Hess and Darrick Banda, did not seek to have him declared “not criminally responsible” for the crime.

They did seek, unsuccessfully, to have evidence they argued was improperly obtained by police , excluded from the case. They said police overstepped their bounds while questioning Lovejoy about the crime without giving him a chance to speak with an attorney present. The attorneys sought to suppress evidence collected at the apartment because Waterville Police initially entered it without a search warrant on the night that Sousa’s friends reported her missing. Police said the reason was to make sure the couple’s daughters were safe after they had been briefly left alone by Lovejoy.


Stokes said that part of the case, his ruling on the motion to suppress, is what is reviewable under appeal, under the terms of Lovejoy’s conditional guilty plea.

Lovejoy said little in court, other than answering Stokes’ questions. He answered, “Yes, sir,” when the judge asked him if it was his intent to plead guilty, conditionally and, later “guilty” when asked how he pleaded to the charge of murder. He signed the agreement specifying it was a conditional appeal with his hands shackled at his sides.

Lovejoy, who appears to have put on weight in jail and had his hair cut closely with a short beard, wore a Kennebec County jail uniform in court and is expected to remain held without bail while he awaits sentencing.

Lovejoy’s jury trial had been slated to start Monday.

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