FARMINGTON — A former Jay man was found guilty of murder Friday in the killing of his former girlfriend, Wendy Douglass, whom he hit in the head with a wooden bat at least three times on July 11, 2017.

James E. “Ted” Sweeney had pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity to killing Douglass, 51, while she slept in her bed at her house, which the two shared at 5 Jewell St. in Jay.

Sweeney, who is deaf, turned himself in to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn about 7:50 a.m. on the day of the killing and wrote a note saying he had hurt Douglass and that police should check on her. Jay police found Douglass’ body at the house.

After a five-day jury-waived trial, which ended on Jan. 14 in Franklin County Superior Court, Justice William Stokes reviewed the evidence and rendered a written verdict Friday.

During the trial, Sweeney’s defense attorneys argued that he suffered from hallucinations and delusions, fueled by his belief that Douglass was cheating on him. State prosecutors argued Sweeney knew what he was doing and knew it was wrong when he killed Douglass.

The two had been in a relationship for about 10 years, before it ended in spring 2017, but he still lived at Douglass’ house, according to investigators.

Stokes found Sweeney guilty of knowing murder. A murder conviction is punishable by a minimum 25 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for April 10.

Sweeney deliberately retrieved a wooden bat from the hallway corner with the specific purpose of “hurting Wendy,” Stokes said.

“He knowingly and deliberately struck her in the face and head three times with sufficient force and violence to cause multiple fractures of the face and skull and extensive bleeding from multiple lacerations,” Stokes said. “The court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time he struck Wendy Douglass in the head multiple times with the bat he was aware that it was practically certain that his actions would cause her death.

“The court does not believe that the defendant, due to his mental condition, was incapable of acting knowingly, nor does the court find that his mental condition raises a reasonable doubt as to his awareness that it was practically certain that he would cause Wendy’s death by violently smashing her head and face with a wooden bat,” Stokes said.

“The court is not persuaded that Sweeney was in the throes of psychosis at the time he attacked Douglass with the bat,” he said.

“Rather, the court believes that the defendant’s anger, frustration and depression as he watched his relationship with Wendy crumble was the motivating factor in his decision to hurt her,” Stokes said. “In short, the defendant’s mental condition did not ‘grossly and demonstrably impair’ his perception or understanding of reality.”

Donna M. Perry can be contacted at:

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