PORTLAND – Linda Dolloff’s despair over losing her marriage — plus her house and her “idyllic lifestyle” — led her to bludgeon her husband with a baseball bat and stage a phony home invasion to cover it up, prosecutors said Wednesday in opening statements at her trial.

Dolloff, who is charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and making a false public report, shot herself as part of the cover-up of the incident on April 12, 2009, said Anne Berlind, an assistant Cumberland County district attorney.

Berlind said Dolloff, 48, and her husband Jeffrey, 54, had agreed to the terms of a divorce, but then he wanted to bring a woman to his home to meet his family. He asked Dolloff to leave for the weekend of April 18, 2009, even offering to pay for a cruise for her, but she refused.

Before 3 a.m. on April 12, Berlind said, Dolloff beat her husband with a bat, leaving him just barely alive, shot herself in the right hip and then called police to say they had been victims of a home invasion.

“She was about to lose everything that mattered to her,” Berlind said.

Berlind said that if anyone did invade the home they apparently came unarmed, and they took a gun from Jeffrey Dolloff’s bureau.

In the process, Berlind said, the criminal would have bypassed an envelope holding $1,500 in cash that was on top of the gun, as well as Jeffrey Dolloff’s wallet, with several hundred dollars more, on the bureau.

Defense lawyer Daniel Lilley maintained that the prosecutors’ case has holes in it.

For instance, he said, there’s the issue of a slightly built, 5-foot-4-inch woman beating a 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound man.

Then, Lilley said, the right-handed woman would have had to shoot herself in the right hip while holding the gun far enough away to avoid getting powder burns on her skin — which would indicate the gun was close to her.

Finally, he said, prosecutors will have to explain why one of the first police officers on the scene said he saw someone standing in a downstairs window.

Questioning of a Cumberland County dispatcher suggested that the defense will try to convince the jury that Linda Dolloff was in an upstairs bathroom making a 911 call at the time police saw the figure in the window.

Berlind painted a portrait of a woman living a life of relative ease, with a pottery studio, a yoga studio in her home where she held weekly classes, gardens and nearly 300 acres of woods where she could walk.

“To Linda Dolloff, appearances meant everything,” Berlind said, and she viewed the home and grounds as her “legacy,” which she would hate to see another woman enjoying.

Linda Dolloff’s writings, seized by authorities, suggested that she signed the divorce agreement — she would get $100,000 and be allowed to live in an attached two-bedroom apartment for a year — even while holding out hope for a reconciliation.

Berlind suggested that Jeffrey Dolloff’s interest in another woman dashed that slim hope.

Berlind said the case against Dolloff is circumstantial but noted that the bat handle showed traces of her DNA.

Lilley said the bat also showed the DNA of an unknown person, as did the handgun trigger — which didn’t have any traces of Dolloff’s DNA.

He said it makes no sense for Dolloff to have beaten her husband with a bat when he had plenty of guns around the house.

“Why bother with guns when you have such a wonderful weapon” as a bat, he asked sarcastically.

Jeffrey Dolloff spent more than a month in two hospitals — Maine Medical Center and the Leahy Clinic in Boston — and was unconscious for most of that time, according to his daughter, Brandy Dolloff, who testified Wednesday afternoon.

She said her father lost his senses of taste and smell, and remains weak from his injuries.

After Wednesday’s opening statements, prosecutors played the tape of Linda Dolloff’s 911 call, which lasted more than a half-hour. During one stretch of nearly six minutes, Dolloff put the phone down and there were loud banging noises in the background, although a Cumberland County dispatcher said he couldn’t explain their origin.

The defense tried to set up a time line to suggest that Linda Dolloff couldn’t have been the figure in the window who was seen by police. The day’s testimony ended while lawyers were still establishing that argument.

The trial is expected to last until the end of next week.

Dolloff could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison if she is convicted of attempted murder.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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