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No progress reported after latest hearing in Owls Head murder case

By Stephen Betts | Jan 03, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Sarah Richards at a Knox County court hearing in 2019.

Rockland — No progress toward a resolution was reported following a hearing Thursday in the murder case against a woman accused of beating and strangling 83-year-old Helen Carver of Owls Head.

The status conference on the Sarah Richards case was held Jan. 2 with Justice Bruce Mallonee, the defense, and Maine Attorney General's Office.

Maine Attorney General spokesman Marc Malon said Friday there was nothing to report.

Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt agreed that there were no developments in the case from the hearing and that a report is awaited. He declined to say what report.

But at a Sept. 11 hearing in Knox County, Justice Mallonee ordered a forensic evaluation on Richards be conducted to determine her mental competency. The evaluation was to have been done 60 days from that September hearing.

No future hearings are scheduled.

The trial -- expected to last one week -- is scheduled for August.

If the case goes to trial, the jury will first determine whether Richards committed the murder. If the jury finds her guilty, it would then be asked to determine whether she is criminally responsible.

Richards, 38, was indicted March 5, and has been held without bail at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since her arrest Feb. 22 for the Feb. 21 death.

Carver's son, Robert Carver, had talked with his mother by telephone shortly before 11 a.m. Feb. 21, and in the conversation she had told her son that Richards had stolen her debit card. The Knox County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the Owls Head woman had contacted the office Feb. 14 about the theft.

A Knox County deputy had contacted Richards and was scheduled to interview her Feb. 22.

Witness reports stated that Richards and her boyfriend were seen leaving the area of Carver's home at about 11:30 a.m. Feb. 21, according to the police affidavit.

Her son found his mother dead in the home shortly after 1 p.m. Feb. 21, after he was unable to reach her again by phone.

Richards initially told police that she had been at the house to shovel snow and went inside and Carver was in good shape when she left, according to the affidavit. However, she later changed her story and said she went inside and Carver was already dead. Richards said she provided lifesaving efforts and left, according to police.

Richards then said when she went inside the house, Carver was upset over the stolen debit card and that the elderly woman "came at her." Richards said she then lunged at Carver and tackled her into an entertainment center. Richards also admitted to striking Carver in the head with a tool. The type of tool is not stated in the police report, but police obtained a warrant from the court to examine a shovel that Richards owned for any signs of blood.

Richards said she put her hands around Carver's neck to determine if she had a pulse.

The affidavit states that the Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of death as blunt force trauma with signs of strangulation.

Murder carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison in Maine.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea is prosecuting the case.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 04, 2020 12:13

Murder is murder so a life sentence is laudable.



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