WISCASSET, Maine — Arline Lawless, who is accused of shooting her former boyfriend to death in Waldoboro, entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity Thursday in Lincoln County Superior Court.

The plea from Lawless came during her arraignment hearing, during which she was described the murder charge against her, according to documents at the court. The documents also showed that earlier this month, the court issued an order for Lawless to undergo a mental evaluation with the State Forensic Service.

Lawless, 25, who also goes by the name Arline Seavey, is accused of killing her boyfriend, 34-year-old Norman Benner, in July in Waldoboro. Police affidavits claim that Lawless fatally shot Benner in the head over the weekend of July 22, while he slept. Lawless then shot herself and the couple was not discovered until Monday, July 23, by one of Benner’s family members.

Lawless and Benner lived at the address where the shooting took place, 2177 Friendship Road, which is owned by a third person who was not involved in the shooting, according to investigators.

Lawless allegedly told two state police investigators and a member of Benner’s family that she shot him because he planned to break off their relationship. Lawless was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged with intentional or knowing murder as she was leaving Spring Harbor Treatment Center in Westbrook.

In a case involving a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, typically the trial proceeds as normal until an innocent or guilty verdict is found. If the defendant is guilty, the trial then enters a second phase in which the jury must decide whether the defendant was legally insane at the time of the crime. People found not guilty by reason of insanity are typically committed to a state psychiatric hospital for an undetermined amount of time rather than being sentenced to prison.

A status hearing in the murder case involving Lawless is scheduled for Dec. 27, but according to a superior court clerk, the case is not expected to go to trial for several months.

Lawless also was charged with assault earlier this year for an incident that happened in July. On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in that case, for which she was sentenced to five days in jail. She is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.