Joseph Eaton, a 34-year-old ex-convict, entered pleas of not guilty and not criminally responsible by reason of insanity for four counts of murder, leaving the option of defense against him.
Prior to the hearing in West Bath, Andrew Wright, one of his lawyers, informed the Associated Press, “Currently, we are preserving the option to pursue the so-called insanity defense. Once we obtain additional forensic details, complete discovery, and have a comprehensive understanding of the case, we will determine our next course of action.”
Law enforcement officials state that Eaton admitted to the murders at a property in rural Bowdoin, and in Yarmouth, he acknowledged injuring three individuals while firing at cars on Interstate 295.
Since Eaton’s apprehension on April 18 and subsequent detention, heavily armed law enforcement conducted a thorough search of the area, causing traffic congestion along the highway near the disordered incident.
In an extensive criminal record, the corpses were discovered in Bowdoin that morning, several days after Eaton’s mother collected him from a correctional facility in Maine where he had served a sentence for breaching probation regarding an aggravated assault conviction.
Officials stated that Cynthia Eaton, aged 62, and David Eaton, aged 66, who are the parents of Eaton, tragically lost their lives alongside their close friends, Robert Eger, aged 72, and Patti Eger, aged 62, who are residents of Bowdoin. The death of the family dog was a consequence of a charge related to animal cruelty. Additionally, he faced accusations of weapon theft.
Police still don’t know the motive for the slayings of Eaton. They found a note at the crime scene, which mentioned that the writer wanted a new life and to be freed from pain.
During the hearing on Friday afternoon, Andrew Wright, wearing a prison jumpsuit and a full beard with glasses, sat in silence as his attorney, Eaton, entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf, twice asking if he understood the charges against him.
Justice Daniel Billings ordered that Eaton be held in custody without the possibility of bail on the charges of homicide and set a bail sum of $250,000 for any further violations.
Several individuals let out audible breaths, while some shed tears as Eaton’s appeal was presented. Sean Halsey and the Eger family, consisting of a collective of 24 individuals, were present in the courtroom during Friday’s proceeding.
Collecting herself, wiping her tears with a tissue, Patricia Eger’s sister, Denise Gilbert, settled on a bench in the lobby as other family members exited the premises. Uttering profanities, Patricia Eger’s brother, Peter G. DeRaps, angrily entered the lobby following the proceedings.
“I simply long for her,” she expressed about her sister. “It’s incredibly pointless. My family has lost four individuals.”
Last week, Gilbert, an employee of the state department of education, mentioned that it was the first time she had returned to work since the shootings. She expressed her difficulty in figuring out how to resume her regular schedule.
When questioned about whether a trial would provide her with a sense of resolution, she replied, “No.”
She then nodded and inquired, mentioning Eaton’s plea, “Did I hear correctly?”.
DeRaps declined to comment in detail outside but provided a written statement in which he referred to Eaton as ‘a malevolent, self-centered weakling,’ asserting that he was expressing his personal views and not representing anyone else.
“He penned,” unnecessary tragedy, which deeply impacted everyone, touches the depths of my heart, and the only hope we have is that justice is served.
Sean Halsey, the father of Paige and Justin Halsey, expressed, “I believe it’s a positive initial move. I’m pleased that he won’t be granted bail or any similar arrangement.”
Halsey mentioned that his kids are still recuperating, but expressed optimism.
“All the doctors are astonished by the remarkable healing progress,” he mentioned.
On the morning of April 18th, the mother of Eaton’s, who had been staying with Egers at 1459 Augusta Road in Bowdoin, picked him up from prison in Maine. He had a lengthy criminal history in Florida and Kansas, and had been serving a two-year sentence for revocation charges stemming from two separate incidents of violence in Maine.
On April 18th, at around 9 a.M., The parents of Egers and Eaton discovered a lifeless body on their property and immediately contacted the police. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that there were multiple firearms and traces of blood scattered throughout the house. Egers, a relative of the deceased, promptly reported the findings to the authorities.
The Halseys were taken to the hospital with three gunshot wounds and Eaton from Cumberland County was arrested at the scene, according to a written indictment. The police received multiple calls about someone shooting at cars near Exit 15 on Interstate 295 at around 10:30 a.M. In Yarmouth. It happened less than two hours later.
On April 18th, Angie Kensell from Chelsea happened to be in a vehicle on Interstate 295, coincidentally joining the audience. Having prior acquaintance with both the Egers and the DeRaps family, she crossed paths with them on that Friday.
“He approached from my right side and began shooting at my car,” she recounted about Eaton.
Kensell claimed that she couldn’t ascertain the particular kind of weapon that Eaton had, but she observed Eaton shooting at the Halseys’ car.
“He continued without stopping and fired at the following vehicle,” she stated.
Kensell stated that she was taken aback by Eaton’s plea.
“It was a bit surreal listening to the ‘not guiltys,’ but we’ll overcome it,” she expressed.