PORTLAND – Linda Dolloff was convicted Tuesday by a jury that decided she tried to kill her husband with a softball bat on April 12, 2009, then shot herself and reported a home invasion to cover up the assault.

It took the jury less than seven hours of deliberations over two days to find Dolloff guilty of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report. She could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison for attempted murder. Her sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

Dolloff, who has been free on bail since shortly after her arrest in June, didn’t react visibly to the verdict or Justice Joyce Wheeler’s decision to revoke her bail. Dolloff kept her head up as she was led out of Cumberland County Superior Court in handcuffs.

She could have been allowed to remain free until her sentencing or while her lawyers prepared an appeal.

Her defense lawyer, Daniel Lilley, said he was stunned by the verdict, calling it “a reverse OJ,” in which the jury’s finding seemingly couldn’t be supported by the evidence.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said after the verdict. “I’m a firm believer in the jury system, but my belief is shaken.”

Lilley told Wheeler that he will file papers in support of an acquittal by the judge. He also said he will review the trial transcripts to determine whether there’s a legal basis for an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said jurors rejected “the sheer ridiculousness of the story that (Dolloff) was telling” about what happened in the couple’s home in Standish.

Instead, Anderson said, the seven women and five men focused on DNA and blood-spatter evidence to determine that Linda Dolloff beat Jeffrey Dolloff so badly that he was unconscious for several weeks and has no memory of the assault.

Anderson said two of Jeffrey Dolloff’s sisters, who were in the courtroom Tuesday, immediately informed him of the guilty verdict.

She said Jeffrey Dolloff was concerned about his wife remaining free and was told that the judge had revoked her bail.

Wheeler said she revoked Dolloff’s bail because she “poses a significant danger to Jeffrey Dolloff and his family.”

Prosecutors said Jeffrey Dolloff has received five typewritten and unsigned letters in recent weeks, suggesting that he be more sympathetic to his wife. The subtext of the three- to five-page letters, Anderson said, appeared to be that Jeffrey Dolloff shouldn’t testify at the trial.

He spent three days on the witness stand, explaining the deteriorating status of the couple’s marriage and describing his own belief that his wife assaulted him.

Anderson said prosecutors have not determined the source of the letters, but they suspect it was Linda Dolloff.

Tuesday’s verdict capped a trial that lasted 14 days from opening statements to jury instructions. Linda Dolloff didn’t testify, and Lilley put only two witnesses on the stand, mounting a defense that accounted for about an hour of testimony.

Lilley said that, through his questioning of prosecution witnesses, he felt he had given the jurors enough evidence to find reasonable doubt about Dolloff’s guilt.

“That’s something I will do tonight over a couple of cocktails — deciding what I would have done differently,” he said.

Dolloff gave a consistent account in taped interviews with police that were played during the trial:

Although the Dolloffs had agreed to the terms of a divorce just weeks before the attack, she said the couple had a romantic evening that night, eating dinner together, soaking in a hot tub and then making love in Jeffrey Dolloff’s bed.

The two had kept separate bedrooms since moving into the house they built together about four years earlier.

She said she woke up shortly before 3 a.m., after hearing a noise, and walked into the hallway, where someone shot her. She fell to the floor and reached for the gun that her assailant had dropped, she said. It fired and blasted a hole in a nearby wall.

Then, she said, she crawled to her husband’s room and, seeing how badly he was hurt, called 911.

Prosecutors contended that Linda Dolloff was increasingly desperate and hopeless over the divorce, as indicated by a journal she kept on her computer.

They suggested that she snapped that weekend because Jeffrey Dolloff had told her that he planned to invite a woman to the house so she could be introduced to his family. He asked Linda Dolloff to leave when the woman arrived, even offering to buy her a cruise, but she declined.

Prosecutors said Linda Dolloff beat Jeffrey Dolloff with the bat, then shot herself in the abdomen — using a small-caliber handgun, which she knew wouldn’t do as much damage as a larger gun that was readily accessible — then called 911.

In her closing argument, Anderson said Linda Dolloff can be heard on the 911 tape beating her husband a second time after putting the phone down and saying she was going to check on her husband.

Although none of the testimony included an analysis of the noises heard in the background of the tape during that time, Anderson told jurors that it was a “second bloodletting.”

Jeffrey Dolloff, in his testimony, said he listened to the tape “30 or 40 times” and concluded that the 911 dispatcher saved his life when he called Linda Dolloff back to the phone.

There were parts of the incident that prosecutors couldn’t explain through testimony, such as the shot through the wall. Anderson suggested in her closing argument that it was a test shot.

Also, the softball bat — which Jeffrey Dolloff said was a keepsake from his days in the Air Force — was charred. Anderson said prosecutors and police still aren’t sure whether it was burned before the attack or after, in an attempt to destroy blood evidence on it.

Anderson said prosecutors also aren’t sure whether the couple made love before the attack, but they noted that Jeffrey Dolloff’s DNA on a wine glass next to the hot tub and seminal fluid in the pants that Linda Dolloff wore on the night of the assault could have been preserved if neither had been washed in a couple of weeks.

Even if the couple did make love, Anderson said, it didn’t change prosecutors’ belief in Linda Dolloff’s guilt.

 

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

[email protected]