OWLS HEAD — A 38-year-old South Thomaston woman is expected to plead guilty to the beating and strangling death of 83-year-old Helen Carver.

Sarah Richards is led out of the courtroom after pleading not guilty to murder in May. Stephen Betts/The Courier-Gazette

Knox County court said the change of plea hearing for Sarah Richards will likely be held at the end of June.

Richards, 38, was indicted March 5, 2019, on murder charges in the death of the Owls Head woman and has been held without bail at the Knox County Jail since her arrest.

Murder carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison in Maine.

Carver’s son, Robert Carver, had talked with his mother by telephone shortly before 11 a.m. Feb. 21, 2019, and in the conversation she had told her son that Richards had stolen her debit card. Carver also reported the theft to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy had contacted Richards and was scheduled to interview her Feb. 22.

Witness reports stated that Richards and her boyfriend were seen leaving the area of Carver’s home at about 11:30 a.m. Feb. 21, according to the police affidavit.

Her son found his mother dead in the home shortly after 1 p.m. Feb. 21, after he was unable to reach her again by phone.

Richards initially told police that she had been at the house to shovel snow and went inside and Carver was in good shape when she left, according to the affidavit. However, she later changed her story and said she went inside and Carver was already dead. Richards said she provided lifesaving efforts and left, according to police.

Richards then said when she went inside the house, Carver was upset over the stolen debit card and that the elderly woman “came at her.” Richards said she lunged at Carver and tackled her into an entertainment center. Richards also admitted to striking Carver in the head with a tool. The type of tool is not stated in the police report, but police obtained a warrant from the court to examine a shovel that Richards owned for any signs of blood.

Richards said she put her hands around Carver’s neck to determine if she had a pulse.

The affidavit states that the Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death as blunt force trauma with signs of strangulation.

At a Sept. 11 hearing in Knox County, Justice Bruce Mallonee ordered a forensic evaluation on Richards be conducted to determine her mental competency. The evaluation was to have been done 60 days from that September hearing.

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