Roland Cummings has lost his bid to overturn his conviction for murdering a 92-year-old Waterville man in 2014.

In a decision issued this week, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a lower court. Cummings, 47, was convicted in November 2015 after the jury deliberated for two days. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Aurele Fecteau’s body was discovered May 23, 2014, by his oldest son, Ernest, who went to his father’s house to check on him after failing several times to reach him by phone. Police theorize that Fecteau had been killed on May 20, 2014.

In March this year, attorney Tina Heather Nadeau argued that the state’s charging of Cummings under the theories of both intentional murder and depraved indifference murder served to confuse jurors, as did the judge’s instructions to jurors.

“In this case, the state did not present evidence that would meet the definition of what depraved indifference is,” Nadeau said at the time.

Under Maine law, a person can be guilty of murder, among other things, if the person “engaged in conduct that manifests depraved indifference to the value of human life and that in fact causes the death of another human being.”

The state’s chief medical examiner testified at Cummings’ trial that Fecteau had been stabbed 16 times.

But Nadeau told the justices that wasn’t enough to support the depraved indifference theory.

The brief filed in this appeal by Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who was also one of the prosecutors at trial, said the evidence at trial was sufficient to uphold a conviction under either theory and that the state was not required to choose one.

“The state presented abundant circumstantial evidence that it was Cummings that stabbed 92-year-old Aurele Fecteau 16 times as he lay in bed, thus causing his death,” Macomber wrote in his brief.

In its decision, Maine’s high court said the evidence presented, “taken in its entirety, could support more than one theory of murder.

“Specifically, a jury could rationally find — based on the evidence presented — that Cummings stabbed Fecteau repeatedly (1) with the conscious object to cause Fecteau’s death, (2) with the knowledge that Fecteau’s death was practically certain to result from his conduct, or (3) without intent or knowledge but manifesting a depraved indifference to the value of human life.”

The court said depraved indifference murder was charged properly as an alternative to intentional or knowing murder in a single count.

Cummings had done odd jobs for Fecteau, who lived alone. Police found evidence of a break-in and search at Fecteau’s home, as well as indications some items were missing. Analysis determined that DNA that matched Cummings was on the pockets of Fecteau’s pants found at the scene.

Cummings also was charged with burglary and theft and he was convicted on those charges, but that conviction was not appealed.

Nadeau said Friday that she’s disappointed in the decision.

“With its opinion, the court is, in essence, allowing the Attorney General’s office to continue charging and proving murder in a sloppy and unfair manner, using ‘depraved indifference’ to shore up shaky murder charges,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “Other appellate courts around the country have addressed the identical issue here on appeal and have come to the exact opposite conclusion. My hope was that this court would engage in similar analysis; instead, the Law Court relied entirely on its own troubling jurisprudence to reach its conclusion here. I am hopeful that Mr. Cummings will see justice done either in the post conviction review process or with federal habeas relief.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

jlowell@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @JLowellKJ