AUGUSTA — The man charged with murder in the Nov. 21 death of Thomas Namer agreed to be held without bail Thursday, and a judge ordered a mental evaluation during a brief hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Courtney D. Shea, 30, of Vassalboro, was scheduled for a Harnish hearing, a special procedure in which the state seeks to extinguish a defendant’s right to bail, but Shea waived that right, at least for the time being.

Justice Michaela Murphy asked Shea to confirm that was his intention, then said the defendant would have to give the state 14 days’ notice if he wanted to seek a bail hearing.

The judge also granted a request by Shea’s defense attorney Brad Grant to have Shea undergo a mental evaluation by the State Forensic Service that would cover questions of Shea’s competency to stand trial as well as criminal responsibility.

According to an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot, Shea told police he had been drinking heavily, blacked out and stabbed Namer to death after the 69-year-old man made sexual advances toward him. Shea had called Namer that night to ask for a ride from Vassalboro. Namer frequently gave people rides. Shea also told police Namer had molested him sexually as a child.

Shea, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound man with short-cropped blond hair, wore an orange jail uniform over a long-sleeved gray shirt and said nothing except to acknowledge that he agreed with Grant about waiving the right to the bail hearing.

Afterward, Grant said he had met with Shea several times at the jail in relation to the murder charge. “This is very early in the process,” Grant said about delaying any bail hearing, “Since you only get one shot at arguing for bail, we will wait to receive discovery from the attorney general’s office first.”

The charge of intentional or knowing murder carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison. Shea has yet to be arraigned or enter a plea on the charge.

Grant previously represented Shea on a charge of probation revocation related to a robbery conviction.

Two women watched Thursday’s hearing. One was Namer’s niece; the other was Myra Achorn, of Augusta, who said she had been friends with Namer for the past 10 years.

In fact, the day Namer was killed, he had picked up Achorn at the airport in Bangor and driven her back to Augusta.

“I was with him that day,” she said. Achorn added that she was disgusted that the news media keep repeating Shea’s claims about Namer.

“I didn’t know his personal life,” Achorn said. “He was a friend. I didn’t know about his lifestyle of going to bars at night.”

Achorn said she met Namer when she asked to see the baker at the Dunkin’ Donuts that used to be at the intersection of Western Avenue and Sewall Street.

She praised his work. “ ‘Your muffins are always gooey in the middle,’ ” she recalled telling him. “From then on, Tom and I were friends.”

Achorn said Namer at the time lived out of his car. “He was homeless,” she said. “He was waiting for housing to open up. First, he lived in Vassalboro, then he moved to Waterville, where he had grown up.” Namer has previously worked for the Kennebec Water District and prior to that as a bartender, according to relatives.

Achorn said Namer frequently slept in the car in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot because he had to be there at 3:30 a.m. to accept deliveries. Eventually he began working at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Civic Center Drive, and lately he worked as a flagger when his knees could bear it, Achorn said.

His most recent vehicle was a Ford Taurus. “He just got it within a year,” she said. “He went two years without one.”

Namer spoke frequently about Shea, she said, as well as others.

“They always helped keep Tom’s car going because he gave them rides,” she said. “I think he gave lots of people rides that lost their licenses. He was always in his car. Tom was very helpful to a lot of people. He liked to be kept busy.”

Namer helped her with yard work, and she frequently took him out to dinner.

“In a restaurant, six to eight people would come over to say, ‘Tom, how are you?’ He had so many people that knew him.”

Achorn and Namer had traveled together to Canada two years ago, spending a couple of nights and visiting a number of churches.

“He was just saying the other day, ‘Are we going to go back to Canada?’ I told him someday.”

Achorn watched the tall Shea as deputies directed him to get up from his chair to walk from the courtroom.

“Tom was shorter than me, with a pot belly,” she said. Achorn stands 5-foot-5. “He had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel.”

Achorn seemed bewildered by what had happened to Namer.

“I miss calling him,” she said. “I never had this grief before. A car accident I could accept. This type of loss is a lot deeper. The relationship I had with Tom was a true friendship with no strings attached, and you don’t find those people very often — a good friend. I guess that’s what hurts me the most. It breaks my heart.”

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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