PORTLAND – Linda Dolloff had a painful cosmetic procedure 10 years ago in which she had her legs fractured to make herself a couple of inches taller. She then lied about it to friends.
That became a factor in the prison sentence she received Friday for trying to kill her husband.
The surgery and subterfuge were cited by a forensic psychiatrist and a judge in Cumberland County Superior Court as an example of Dolloff’s narcissism, her penchant for lying, and her willingness to go to extremes to get what she wants.
Justice Joyce Wheeler sentenced Dolloff, 49, to spend 16 years in prison for beating her husband to the brink of death with his favorite softball bat on April 12, 2009, then shooting herself to cover up the crime.
Just before she was sentenced, Dolloff broke her long silence and pleaded for mercy, while maintaining her innocence.
“I stand here in total despair,” she said, sobbing. “I am 49 years old. I have lost everything. I ask the court for mercy for myself and my family.”
“The charges and the conviction against me and the jury finding me guilty go against my abiding belief in nonviolence,” she said.
Neither Jeffrey Dolloff nor his daughters attended the sentencing. District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said Jeffrey Dolloff feels that his family has been through too much.
The sentence calls for Linda Dolloff to serve 16 years of a 25-year sentence, followed by four years of probation. She also was ordered to pay $15,000 of her divorce settlement from Jeffrey Dolloff to reimburse the victim compensation fund’s expenses on his behalf.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Dr. Carlyle Voss testified that Linda Dolloff has a “cluster B antisocial personality disorder.”
Her lying about the leg extensions to friends and even her lover, Jeffrey Dolloff — she said she had a bone disease — was a glaring example of the disorder, which makes her rehabilitation less likely, Voss said.
Dolloff’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, spent much of the four-hour hearing challenging the way Voss reached his conclusions and suggesting that Dolloff poses little risk of committing a new offense when released.
Lilley argued that Dolloff should spend no more than three years in prison, and that her lie about a cosmetic procedure 10 years ago has no bearing on her threat to society today.
“If vanity is a crime, then we’re going to have a lot of full jails,” he said.
Dolloff will appeal her conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and seek a new trial, Lilley said.
The appeal will be based on the same grounds as an earlier request for a new trial, which was denied by Wheeler last month: that the evidence did not support the jury’s guilty verdict, that some evidence should have been disallowed, and that the prosecution misled the jury in closing arguments.
Dolloff called police before dawn on Easter morning in 2009, saying her husband had been attacked in their home in Standish by an intruder who then shot her.
Jeffrey Dolloff suffered broken bones in his face and skull, and ultimately lost his sense of taste and smell. He remembers nothing of the assault.
Nothing of value was stolen from the home.
The Dolloffs were getting a divorce, and while both described it as amicable, Jeffrey Dolloff had told Linda Dolloff to move out while he brought another woman home to meet his family.
Linda Dolloff was arrested in June 2009 after an investigation by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police. Her three-week trial ended in May with jurors finding her guilty of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report.
Jurors said afterward that Linda Dolloff’s lack of emotion contributed to their conclusion that she was guilty.
On Friday, as she sat in court in a crisp orange jumpsuit from the Cumberland County Jail, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, she dabbed her eyes frequently with a tissue.
Her friends and family were visibly upset, and twice were warned by the bailiff after gasping with shock during the sentencing.
“Linda is kind and loving and I have never seen her violent toward anyone,” Patricia Small, Dolloff’s older sister, told the judge. “We don’t want to lose the person Linda is because she has been in prison too long.”
A friend, Charlene Barton, told Wheeler that she has known Dolloff to be a peaceful, nurturing person. Several other people spoke on her behalf.
Afterward, Barton described the psychiatrist’s and prosecutor’s conclusions as “psychobabble.” As a licensed social worker she isn’t authorized to diagnose the conditions Dolloff is said to have, she said, but in 10 years of friendly interaction she saw none of those traits.
In arguing for a sentence of 30 years, the maximum for attempted murder, Anderson described two Linda Dolloffs. One is the woman her friends know, a yoga instructor who is kind to animals and enjoys pottery and gardening. The other is a conniving, demanding woman who, when faced with divorce and the loss of her idyllic lifestyle, sought to become a grieving widow rather than a jilted spouse.
“This definitely is a person who will do anything and go to extreme measures beyond the comprehension of reasonable people to maintain control,” Anderson said.
In his argument Friday, Lilley said Anderson offered early in the case to agree to have Dolloff serve just three years in prison if she pleaded guilty. Such settlement discussions are typically confidential.
In her comments to the judge, Dolloff also said the offer was made.
“The district attorney offered me three years in prison if I would plead guilty, but I could not do that as I did not try to kill my husband,” she said.
Wheeler said repeatedly that she was bound by the jury’s guilty verdict, so the possibility that Dolloff didn’t commit the crime was not part of her deliberation.
The judge noted that the crime was clearly planned and left Jeffrey Dolloff with lifelong injuries. He will be on medication for the rest of his life to prevent deadly blood clots.
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: