AUGUSTA — A Waterville man who pleaded guilty last summer to breaking into the home of a 73-year-old neighbor woman and raping and sexually abusing her withdrew his pleas Thursday, and the case is now headed for trial in May or later.

Mark D. Halle, 33, changed course at the Capital Judicial Center after Justice Michaela Murphy indicated she would put him behind bars for 30 years — the maximum term available on the gross sexual assault charge — rather than the 20-year cap he agreed to previously.

Thursday was the second time Halle was in front of Murphy to be sentenced. Instead, Halle withdrew the guilty pleas he entered in August 2016 to charges of gross sexual assault, burglary and criminal mischief with a dangerous weapon.

The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh, told Murphy the state would be pursuing all the charges, including an additional count of gross sexual assault, plus aggravated assault and terrorizing with a dangerous weapon, all of which allegedly occurred Feb. 7, 2016, in Waterville. Those other charges were to be dismissed under the plea agreement.

More than 30 people packed into one side of the courtroom, all relatives and friends of the victim, and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney sat among them.

Prior to the judge entering the courtroom, Cavanaugh explained the process they could expect to see at the hearing and warned them that if Halle decided the sentence was too long, the case would be scheduled for trial as soon as possible.


At the last hearing, after the victim described what happened, Murphy said she disagreed with the amount of incarceration proposed in the plea agreement, saying it might not be long enough to protect the public. She ordered Halle to undergo a psychological evaluation to get a professional opinion of whether Halle probably would present a risk to public safety upon his release after 20 years. Murphy said that report was received Wednesday.

Halle has no previous criminal record.

At the earlier sentencing hearing, in September 2016, the victim told the judge that Halle put a pillowcase over her head; sexually assaulted her; sodomized her with the pellet gun; took her to her tub, where he washed her; and, before he left, said he knew her family and would kill them and her if she reported the crime. The Kennebec Journal does not publish the names of victims of sexual assaults.

Police say Halle entered the woman’s home about 4 a.m. by removing an air conditioner and climbing through her living room window. The victim lived in the same mobile home park where Halle was living with his sister. The victim woke to a crashing sound she thought was probably her cat, got out of bed and saw a figure standing inside her home, pointing a gun at her. Police later determined it was a pellet gun they found in the area.

The judge said Thursday that the victim’s statements about what her attacker said at the time indicated “predatory conduct and depraved conduct” and the 20-year cap agreed to by attorneys was insufficient to protect the public.

Halle’s attorney, Pamela Ames, then told the judge that Halle wanted to withdraw his pleas, and Halle confirmed it when the judge addressed him directly.


Ames said afterward that Halle did not want to accept 30 years of incarceration.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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