BELFAST, Maine — A Waldo County jury found Victoria Scott guilty of manslaughter on Friday after less than 2½ hours of deliberation.
Scott, 25, claimed she was defending herself on the evening of Feb. 8, 2017, when she plunged a knife repeatedly into Edwin Littlefield’s leg during a fight that started as a minor argument between acquaintances.
Several of Littlefield’s family and friends who attended the five-day trial shed tears after the foreman read the guilty verdict.
“We’ve been waiting for this for 14 months,” said Littlefield’s sister, Bernadette Littlefield. “I think we’ll start healing soon.”
Scott said Littlefield, 43, had knocked her to the ground, straddled her, struck her in the face, and choked her until she believed she was going to black out. Scott, then 23, claimed Littlefield said “I’m going to kill you, you [expletive].”
She said she pulled a knife from her pocket and stabbed Littlefield in the thigh and calf in an effort to get him off her. Littlefield suffered 11 knife wounds, though Scott told investigators she thought she had stabbed him five times at most.
Littlefield’s family members have roundly rejected Scott’s claims of what happened that night, saying he would never try to harm a woman, especially over what should have been a minor disagreement.
“The verdict is sweet,” said Bernadette Littlefield.
Scott showed little emotion when the foreman read the verdict. She appeared to tense up and her jaw dropped slightly when she heard the word “guilty.”
Steven Peterson, Scott’s defense attorney, said he was “shocked” by the jury’s decision and “did not understand it at all.”
He believes the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to prove manslaughter, let alone prove that Scott wasn’t defending herself as she claims. He said this is the most surprised he’s been by a verdict in more than 40 years of law.
“We thought the verdict would be the other way,” he said. “In fact, we were pretty confident.”
Peterson expects to appeal the conviction based on “insufficient evidence.”
First, Scott will be sentenced. The court expects to hold a sentencing hearing in late May or early June. Prosecutors expect to request a prison term of 10-15 years. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30.
“Ed Littlefield didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, one of the prosecutors, said after the verdict.
Prosecutors said they believe inconsistencies in Scott’s story likely helped sway jurors.
Scott and Littlefield were the only people who saw what happened in the driveway that night in Waldo. Littlefield bled to death before police arrived.
Littlefield walked to Rose Newton’s home that night and told Newton that he was upset that Scott and and Josh Dorman were there. Dorman and Scott were staying with Newton, who was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, helping her around the house. Dorman, a friend of Newton’s son, testified that he also bought prescription drugs from Newton.
Littlefield told Newton that Dorman and Scott were using her, and spoke of them in offensive terms, saying he’d like to hurt Dorman, according to court testimony.
Steven Peterson, Scott’s lead defense attorney, told jurors during closing arguments that Littlefield allegedly was upset that he couldn’t stay at the house and that he couldn’t get drugs from Newton anymore.
Scott says she went out after Littlefield and confronted him in the driveway, asking, “What the [expletive] is your problem?” She said Littlefield turned on her, shouted that she was his problem, and pushed her. She said she hit her head on the bed of the pickup.
She got up, caught up to Littlefield as he tried to walk away and “touched” his elbow. She said she wanted to confront him for pushing her. That’s when he allegedly grabbed Scott by the wrist and dragged her to the spot where the fight escalated and went to the ground, she claims.
During closing arguments, Macomber presented a drastically different version of events. Scott was incensed by what she heard Littlefield say and approached him angrily in the driveway, Macomber argued.
Littlefield’s autopsy revealed a “cluster” of four very similar stab wounds on his outer left thigh, but there was a stab wound from another angle on his inner thigh. Macomber told jurors that knife wound could have happened while Scott pursued Littlefield down the driveway with knife in hand and stabbed him in the leg as he walked away, sparking the fight.
Littlefield also suffered a pair of stab wounds to his left calf, a cut on his scalp, stab wounds to his abdomen and arm, and a cut to his finger, according to the state medical examiner.
Scott showed no significant signs of injury in the days following the fight, and defense attorneys argued that thick winter clothing and Littlefield’s winter gloves prevented bruises and swelling.
She did have a knife wound on her thigh, which she said happened as Littlefield tried to wrestle the knife away from her and stab her in the face or neck area. Prosecutors believe she may have caused the wound herself.
Prosecutors argued that Scott could have easily escaped after she was pushed down initially, and that Littlefield was going to leave the property. Instead, she got up and went after him.
Defense attorneys also tried to cast suspicion on Dorman, focusing on the basement of the home. Littlefield went back inside the house through the basement after the stabbing, leaving two large pools of blood with a streak of blood between them, as if he’d been dragged across the floor.
Littlefield reportedly ran into Dorman in the basement, and Dorman claimed Littlefield approached him with his hands out, intending to strangle him. Prosecutors said it was more likely that Littlefield was going in to get help.
Dorman said he pushed Littlefield down, then helped him up and took him outside.
Defense attorneys, and some of Littlefield’s family members, said they believe Dorman played some role in Littlefield’s death. Prosecutors agreed not to charge Dorman with drug crimes or manslaughter if he testified in this case, according to court testimony. That has left some members of Littlefield’s family frustrated.
The state medical examiner testified that Littlefield could have survived his wounds had he received prompt medical care, but no help came.
No one at the home called 911 until the homeowner’s niece arrived and found Littlefield dead inside a pickup parked in the driveway. Newton had called her niece to come break up the fight after she heard shouting in the driveway, but she was too late.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.
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