The man accused of killing four people, including his parents, and wounding three others in a pair of April shootings in Bowdoin and Yarmouth is now scheduled to be arraigned on July 28.

Joseph Eaton enters West Bath District Court after his arrest on April 20. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Joseph Eaton, 34, is expected to enter pleas for the first time to 27 charges, including four counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder or aggravated attempted murder and two counts of illegal possession of a firearm, according to court documents. He faces life behind bars.

The arraignment was rescheduled for 1 p.m. July 28 at the West Bath District Court. Eaton had been set to appear in court late last month but that was delayed so he could be arraigned on both cases at the same time.

Eaton confessed to police to shooting his parents, David and Cynthia Eaton, and their friends Robert and Patti Eger, shortly after he was arrested on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth on the morning of April 18.

At the conclusion of a 10-hour series of phone interviews with the Press Herald from his jail cell in Wiscasset, Eaton last month confessed again to a reporter and claimed he had not been in control of his actions. He said he was considering pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Justin Andrus, who recently signed on to serve as one of Eaton’s lawyers, declined Wednesday to answer questions about the team’s defense strategy, including whether Eaton will pursue an insanity defense.


“I anticipate there will be some conversation about mental health,” he said.

Until recently, Andrus headed the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, which manages a roster of private attorneys who sign on to represent indigent Mainers. He said his role in the Eaton case, one of the highest-profile murder cases in Maine history, is unrelated to his work for MCILS.

Andrus said he was recruited by Andrew Wright to serve as his co-council. Wright has represented Eaton since his arrest. 

A Sagadahoc County Grand Jury indicted Eaton on 16 charges, including four counts of murder and one count of cruelty to animals for allegedly shooting the Egers’ goldendoodle Max at the couple’s home on Augusta Road in Bowdoin. Eaton, a convicted felon who was barred from possessing firearms, also is accused of stealing his mother’s pistol, which he said he turned on her, and eight guns belonging to Robert Eger, which he told the Press Herald he was prepared to use in a shootout with police before he instead surrendered.

A Cumberland County Grand Jury indicted Eaton on 11 charges related to the interstate shootings, which wounded three and prompted lockdowns in Yarmouth schools and offices while police searched for the shooter. Bowdoinham’s Sean Halsey, 51, and his children, Justin Halsey, 29, and Paige Halsey, 26, were driving to the grocery store when their back windshield was shattered by gunfire. All three are recovering.

Eaton said he fired at several cars because he was under the influence of drugs and mistakenly believed they were police cruisers.

Eaton is currently being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail without bail. The Maine Office of the Attorney General is prosecuting the case.

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