ALFRED — A Saco woman pleaded guilty to murder Thursday and asked a judge to sentence her to life in prison for fatally stabbing a woman in the neck in a random attack at a Saco supermarket in August.

Connor MacCalister, 31, who formally identified as a transgender male, waived all mental health defenses at a hearing in York County Superior Court in Alfred and rejected arguing for a lesser sentence. Murder in Maine is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

MacCalister’s attorney, Robert LeBrasseur, said that MacCalister pleaded guilty against his advice out of a desire to take full responsibility for killing Wendy Boudreau, a 59-year-old mother and grandmother.

“By proceeding in this manner, Connor wants to make it easier on Mrs. Boudreau’s family and her friends,” LeBrasseur said outside the courthouse.

MacCalister attacked Boudreau from behind without provocation after randomly targeting her at Shaw’s on Aug. 19.

Members of Boudreau’s family sat in silence in the courtroom throughout the hearing, some wiping away tears.

Justice John O’Neil Jr. scheduled a sentencing hearing for Nov. 23, when Boudreau’s family members will have an opportunity to speak in court. A victim-witness advocate, speaking on behalf of the family members as they left the courtroom, said they had no comment at this time.

LeBrasseur said the judge would not have accepted MacCalister’s plea if she were not mentally competent to make that decision on her own. MacCalister underwent two evaluations to assess her mental competency leading up to Thursday’s hearing and another late Thursday morning just hours before the hearing, he said.

In pleading guilty, MacCalister did so at the earliest legal opportunity after being indicted Sept. 10 by a grand jury on the murder charge. Thursday was MacCalister’s first time back in court since Aug. 21, when O’Neil ordered her held without bail.

MacCalister, dressed in a blue polo shirt and tan pants, answered O’Neil’s questions in a clear voice, addressing him as “your honor” each time.

“Guilty, your honor,” MacCalister answered when the judge asked her about her plea.

At Thursday’s hearing, O’Neil questioned MacCalister at length before accepting her plea.

“If you plead guilty today, you will forever be giving up your trial rights. Do you understand?” O’Neil asked. MacCalister responded that she did.

MULTIPLE DOCUMENTS UNSEALED

After MacCalister’s plea, the judge unsealed multiple documents that had been kept secret, including two letters of apology that MacCalister wrote on the day of the murder. One was to Boudreau, written within 45 minutes after the attack and before MacCalister knew Boudreau was dead.

“Dear Mam, My name is Connor n today I messed up n slit your throat. You did nothing to deserve that n I want you to kno that I’m really sorry for wat I did,” MacCalister wrote.

MacCalister addressed a second letter to Boudreau’s family on the same day, after learning that Boudreau had died.

“I thout I lost evrything n made the worst mistake of my life by taking her from you,” MacCalister wrote.

MacCalister told witnesses at the Shaw’s supermarket immediately after the stabbing that she had stopped taking her medication. But a transcript of her interview with a police detective after her arrest indicates she had never stopped taking her medications.

At Thursday’s hearing, MacCalister told the judge she had resumed taking four different medications: two antipsychotic medications, an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication.

LeBrasseur said that while in jail, MacCalister, who was born Tanisha Hopkins, had stopped taking testosterone treatments that had been part of her transition from female to male. Since then, MacCalister has returned to thinking of herself as a woman, he said.

The judge also unsealed a mental evaluation report, filed with the court by Debra Baeder, chief forensic psychologist for the State Forensic Service, on Sept. 15 after she evaluated MacCalister twice.

In that report, Baeder wrote that MacCalister had previously been hospitalized at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, both psychiatric facilities. MacCalister had been previously diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.

“Her insight was limited and she also was significantly fatalistic about all aspects of her future. Her impaired insight/fatalism appeared borne of some form of mental illness, most likely of the depressive quality. That fatalism, however, did not exceed the bounds of rationality,” Baeder wrote.

PLANNED TO KILL SEVERAL PEOPLE

Maine State Police Detective Kristopher Kennedy said in a written affidavit filed with the court in August that MacCalister confessed to police in the hours immediately after the murder that she was “angry with life” and “wanted to get back at someone.”

Kennedy wrote that MacCalister, who lived a block away from Boudreau, went to the Shaw’s in Saco with plans to kill several people and wanted to target an elderly woman who wouldn’t resist. Police have said MacCalister and Boudreau didn’t know each other.

MacCalister saw Boudreau in the parking lot and followed her into the store, police said. MacCalister grabbed her from behind in the ice cream aisle and stabbed Boudreau, Kennedy wrote. One of her daughters and a grandchild were shopping in the store with Boudreau, but didn’t see the attack.

MacCalister lived just one street away from the home on Bonython Avenue in Saco where Boudreau lived with her husband, Jeffrey, for more than 30 years. Family and friends have described her as active and admired in the community and fond of entertaining their four children and many grandchildren.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan