A Limington man will go on trial this week more than three years after he allegedly killed his neighbor with a machete.

Bruce Akers, now 61, is charged with murder in the death of Douglas Flint, 55. The two men lived next to each other on Ossipee Trail, and investigators have accused Akers of killing Flint and then hiding his body under a pile of deer carcasses. If convicted, Akers faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday.

Douglas Flint

Court documents show the case has moved slowly in part because a judge found Akers incompetent to stand trial in July 2018. Akers received treatment at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, and then the judge determined in January 2019 that he had regained his competency.

Still, the defendant’s state of mind will likely be a key question for the jury.

The state filed a motion to admit notes from the treatment staff at Riverview, while the defense tried to bar them. The defense also tried to admit seven letters that Akers wrote to his ex-wife, saying they relate to a defense of abnormal condition of the mind. The judge decided the letters were not relevant to that issue, but he said the defense could try to offer them again at trial. And the questionnaire for jury selection included questions about alcohol or substance use, as well as intellectual or mental disabilities or mental health diagnoses.

“The defendant ‘has clearly demonstrated an ability to advocate for his own needs and wants, to express an understanding of his legal situation and of the legal system in general, to express the appropriateness of contacting his attorneys or other persons for needed assistance and so on. Given all of the available information, it does appear that Mr. Akers is fully able to demonstrate the full range of skills associated with trial competence at the present time, were he to choose to do so,'” Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas wrote in his January 2019 competency order, quoting from a doctor’s report.

Akers has been held without bail since his arrest. The trial will take place at York County Superior Court in Alfred, and jury selection took place last week.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case but declined Wednesday to answer questions about it. Defense attorneys Kristine Hanly and Valerie Randall emphasized that Akers has the presumption of innocence.

“While the state has charged Mr. Akers with murder, it is important to recognize that all the State has presented so far is a charging instrument,” Hanly wrote in an email. “Bruce Akers is cloaked with the Constitutional right of the presumption of innocence. Bruce denies the State’s allegations and looks forward to challenging each element of the charge at the upcoming trial.”

Bruce Akers of Limington, center, appears at York County Superior Court to make his initial appearance June 13, 2016, on a charge of murder for the death of his Ossipee Trail neighbor, 55-year-old Douglas Flint. Akers’ attorneys are Robert LeBrasseur, left, and Paul Aronson, right.

An obituary for Flint said he graduated from Bonny Eagle High School and went on to work as a carpenter.

“He will always be remembered for his building and tinkering projects and the enjoyment he had with snowmobiling years ago; however, it was his love of family, especially his grandchildren, that was most important to him,” the obituary says.

Court documents describe a contentious relationship between the neighbors that ended with a grisly killing.

Akers allegedly called the York County Sheriff’s Office on June 9, 2016, to accuse Flint of stealing a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice drinks from him. He then declined a sergeant’s offer to come to his property.

An affidavit from the Maine State Police outlines what happened the following day. The next morning, Flint’s brother called police to say the man was missing from his home overnight. Flint’s daughter also called police to say she had not seen her father since the previous evening, and she said Flint had been considering suicide over the death of his wife. Family members also told investigators from the York County Sheriff’s Office that Flint had a history of property disputes and other disagreements with his neighbor.

The officers did not find Flint on his property, and several hours later, they found Akers in his camper. The affidavit states that one sergeant asked Akers if his neighbor was still alive, and Akers shook his head no.

“Akers made a spontaneous statement, ‘This guy just wouldn’t leave me alone,’ ” the affidavit says.

The officers informed Akers of his rights and took him to the Limington Municipal Center. The police got a search warrant for his property. A police dog detected Flint’s body underneath rotting deer carcasses, and the investigators also found a machete in the camper. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the cause of death was “severe and extensive blunt and sharp injuries to the head and neck with almost total decapitation,” the affidavit says.

Akers was then charged with murder, and a grand jury indicted him in July 2016. Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis immediately requested a mental examination, and the judge agreed. The findings of that exam and any others are not available in the public case file.

“The state anticipates that one of the likely issues in this case will be whether the defendant is competent for trial, whether at the time of the offense the defendant was engaging in either intentional or knowing conduct as defined by the Maine Criminal Code or whether he was suffering from an abnormal condition of the mind, or the extent to which he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct,” Ellis wrote in his motion.

The years between the initial arrest and the eventual trial have been marked by delays and disputes over evidence.

The first defense attorney filed a motion to suppress the statements Akers made to police and the eventual findings on this property, saying the police conducted an illegal search. But Akers requested new attorneys, and the judge appointed the current lawyers in their place.

Hanly and Randall represented Akers while he received treatment at Riverview, and once he regained competency to stand trial, they continued to pursue the motion to suppress. After a hearing last year, the judge denied the motion. A scheduling notice indicates the case was possibly headed to a plea in July 2019, but that hearing does not appear to have taken place.

The defense also filed a motion for sanctions in December, saying the state had not turned over important information about potential witnesses. They focused on four members of the York County Sheriff’s Office who were involved in various ways in the initial investigation into Flint’s death. In particular, the defense raised concern about an email one of the investigating officers sent to other officers before the motion to suppress hearing that could require their testimony.

“I will schedule a meeting to prep together,” Sgt. Steven Thistlewood wrote in the email, which also included reference links about Miranda rights.

A major in the York County Sheriff’s Office forwarded that email to the prosecutor. Ellis discussed the email with others in the Maine Attorney General’s Office and called it “a poor choice of words,” but decided not to forward it to the defense attorneys. Those emails were all attached as exhibits on the defense motion.

The judge ultimately agreed there had been no violation, but said he would have been concerned if the officers had indeed met to coordinate before the hearing.

“The record before the court, however, establishes that no such meeting occurred and that each officer met individually with (Ellis) to prepare for the suppression hearing,” Douglas wrote.

Court documents indicate the trial could last as long as a week.

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