ALFRED, Maine (AP) — A woman accused of fatally stabbing a stranger in a Maine supermarket pleaded guilty to murder and requested a life sentence on Thursday, disregarding her lawyer’s recommendation that she use an insanity defense.
Connor MacCalister is charged with killing 59-year-old Wendy Boudreau at a Shaw’s in Saco in August. MacCalister, 31, was born Tanisha Hopkins and previously identified herself as a transgender man but asked to be referred to as a woman in court.
She entered the guilty plea in York County Superior Court over her attorney’s objections that she plead not guilty.
Later, outside court, defense attorney Robert LeBrasseur said MacCalister wanted to plead guilty to “make this easier on Mrs. Boudreau’s family and friends.” He said he is required to argue in favor of the life sentence, and will do so when the case returns for sentencing on Nov. 23.
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“You have someone who is trying to do the right thing,” LeBrasseur said.
MacCalister told police she had gone to the store to kill “several random people,” according to an affidavit. Court records show that MacCalister said she was “off my meds” at the time of the stabbing inside a supermarket near the ice cream freezer.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said MacCalister’s initial plan was to kill one person and take another hostage, and kill the hostage when police arrived on the scene.
“The defendant had been planning for a month prior to the attack,” Zainea said.
Justice John O’Neill Jr. repeatedly asked MacCalister in court on Thursday if she understood the gravity of the charges and that entering a guilty plea would mean forever giving up any trial rights. MacCalister spoke clearly when answering every question by saying she understood, addressing the judge as “your honor.”
Police have said there is no indication Boudreau and MacCalister knew each other even though they’re both from Saco. Members of Boudreau’s family sat quietly in court during the appearance.
A criminal responsibility exam released by the court on Thursday states that MacCalister showed evidence of mental health issues, but her decision-making ability was “not so disordered as to impair her ability to make reality-based decisions.”
The exam report also states that MacCalister has indicated her desire to be placed in a female jail and that she has stopped taking testosterone and was “amenable” to being identified as female.
The court also released a pair of letters of apology MacCalister wrote for Boudreau’s family. One said she hopes “one day you will know peace.”