Accused murderer Glenn Brown entered a courtroom for his bail hearing at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast last October. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — A man accused of killing his sister and brother-in-law in a premeditated act of violence at their Waldo home in October 2020 is expected to plead no contest this week.

Glenn Brown, 68, of Benton, has made no deal with state prosecutors ahead of the Wednesday morning plea hearing, his attorney, Jeff Silverstein of Bangor, said Tuesday. The judge will likely  determine what sentence Brown should receive at a later date, his lawyer said. It was not immediately clear what drove Brown to change his plea.

At a  bail hearing last October, Maine Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea described the killings of Richard and Tina Bowden as “intentional and preplanned.”

“This was not spontaneous conduct,” she told the judge.

According to police documents filed immediately after the deaths, the crime appeared to be connected to a long-simmering family feud over their stepfather’s estate. Brown, who turned himself in to Belfast police, initially told officers he thought he had shot somebody, then said he had shot “two exotic birds.” When police asked where the shooting happened, he said it was in the vicinity of his sister’s home in Waldo.

When officers rushed to the home, they found Tina Bowden dead and Richard Bowden showing only faint signs of life. Both the Bowdens were 64 years old, and each died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Zainea said at the plea hearing that on the day of the murders, Brown went to a bank and withdrew $14,000 for his wife, which he left at his brother Mitchell Brown’s house. Then he took his brother’s 9 mm gun, the prosecutor said, and stopped his car on Bonne Terre Road, where the Bowdens lived.

“He went to the residence and shot her at the back of the head while she was standing at the kitchen counter,” Zainea said.

Richard Bowden, who had been watching TV in another room, then went into the kitchen, where he was shot, too.

An undated family photo of Richard and Tina Bowden. The couple were killed at their home in Waldo on Oct. 5, 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Diahanne Morse

Soon after the murders, detectives met with Mitchell Brown, who told them that he and his siblings had been involved in an “ongoing civil battle” with Tina Bowden over their stepfather’s estate, according to a police affidavit.

Mitchell Brown told detectives that in the months before and after Cecil “Zeke” Armstrong’s death, Tina Bowden had made her siblings’ lives “extremely difficult” and caused “an enormous amount of animosity within the family,” the affidavit stated. He also said she had excluded the rest of the family from the estate.

Armstrong, who raised seven stepchildren, died in Nov. 2019 and left about $126,000 in assets, plus a house and 25 acres of land in Belfast. The estate was to be divided in seven equal shares, but it’s been tied up in lawsuits for years.

Some of the tensions within the family had been playing out in court. A few months before the murders, a third brother, Ralph E. Brown of Winterport, filed suit against Tina Bowden, who served as trustee of their stepfather’s estate. In that lawsuit, the brother claimed that his sister refused to provide details about the estate and had dipped into their stepfather’s assets.

But Tina Bowden fought those allegations, saying she only used Armstrong’s money to care for him so he could remain in his home during his life. In her response to the lawsuit, she claimed that Ralph E. Brown and Mitchell Brown had harassed and bullied her as she carried out her duties as trustee. The year before her murder, Bowden obtained a protection order against Mitchell Brown. She also issued a counterclaim against her brother, Ralph E. Brown, for defamation, slander and severe emotional distress.

Mitchell Brown told detectives that while Glenn Brown did not speak of the family’s troubles often, he knew his brother was “very angry with Tina,” according to the police affidavit.

At the bail hearing, people close to Glenn Brown told the judge that he had strong family and community support and would not be a flight risk. He also had no prior criminal record — not even a speeding ticket, his attorney said. But Waldo County Superior Court Justice Robert Murray ultimately found that the severity of the charges against Brown outweighed such mitigating factors and did not allow him to be freed on bail.