December 7, 2012

Mercier sentenced to 70 years for 1980 killing of Anson woman

Friends, family of Rita St. Peter are satisfied with result, although actual time served might be only 40 years

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Jay Mercier reacts after being sentenced to 70 years in prison for the 1980 murder of Rita St. Peter, at the Somerset County Superior Court House in Skowhegan on Friday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

click image to enlarge

Laurie Ann Robbins, left, and Christine Belangia, center, comfort Terri Foulkes, right, daughter of murder victim Rita St. Peter, outside the Somerset County Superior Court House in Skowhegan, after the sentencing of Jay Mercier for the 1980 murder of Rita St. Peter on Friday. Belangia was St. Peter's sister; Robbins was a friend.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Additional Photos Below


From a 1990 Law Court case called State v. Shortsleeves.

1) Premeditation-in-fact

2) Multiple deaths

3) Murder committed by a person who has previously been convicted of homicide or any other crime involving the use of deadly force against a person

4) Murder accompanied by torture, sexual abuse or other extreme cruelty inflicted upon the victim

5) Murder committed in a penal institution by an inmate of that institution

6) Murder of a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties

7) Murder of a hostage

He added 10 years to the sentence in the second stage of the analysis because of the impact on St. Peter's friends and family.

"There was permanent loss and pain, compounded by 30 years of uncertainty," Nivison said, noting Mercier's lack of remorse and not taking responsibility for the crime.

Mercier's defense team had asked for a sentence of between 25 and 40 years in prison. The sentence can be appealed.

Mercier denied killing St. Peter, who was 20 when she was last seen walking across the bridge that connects Madison and Anson late on the night of July 4, 1980.

Her bloody and battered body was found the following morning on a field trail off Campground Road in Anson.

Mercier had sexually assaulted St. Peter, beat her with something like a tire iron, then ran her over with his truck, according to prosecutors.

The tire iron was never found, but tire tread evidence from Mercier's pickup truck matched photographed tire treads at the scene.

DNA evidence taken from St. Peter's body also matched Mercier's DNA. He had been a suspect all along.

In 2005, State Police Detective Bryant Jacques visited Mercier at his home and picked up a butt of a cigarette Mercier had just finished smoking.

Lab tests on the cigarette revealed a DNA profile that matched DNA samples taken from St. Peter. Jacques later used the evidence to get a search warrant for a swab of Mercier's mouth for a more conclusive sample.

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Christine Belangia, right, hugs Laurie Ann Robbins, left, following the sentencing of Jay Mercier at the Somerset County Superior Court House in Skowhegan on Friday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)