Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Ann S. Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
ALFRED -- When 16-year-old Sabrina Beggs looks into her future, she sees her mother's absence in the milestones of her life: picking out a prom dress, earning her driver's license, graduating from high school and college and getting married. But one of the hardest things in the aftermath of her mother's murder, she said, is missing out on everyday experiences like sharing how their days went.
The teen tried to describe her loss in court before her stepfather, Patrick Dapolito, was sentenced for the 2010 murder of 30-year-old Kelly Winslow. She spoke of how she can't be alone or trust others and how she needed to talk to her mother about her fears about entering high school.
"I regret that I didn't talk to her one last time before Patrick took her life. I would do anything to get my mom back, even if it was just to talk to her for one last time." Sabrina said Friday during the proceeding in York County Superior Court.
Dapolito, 42, was convicted in February of fatally shooting his wife in their Limington home on March 16, 2010. The prosecution described Winslow as a victim of domestic violence, while the defense said she was a casualty of a dispute between Dapolito and associates in his marijuana-trafficking business.
Justice John O'Neil sentenced Dapolito to 55 years in prison -- much closer to the 60 years recommended by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese than the 29 1/2 years sought by defense lawyer David Van Dyke. Murder carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison.
Dapolito is appealing both the conviction and the sentence, Van Dyke said after the hearing.
O'Neil characterized the killing as the ultimate crime of domestic violence against a woman Dapolito described during his trial as a gentle, passive person.
"There is no baser motivation than to execute a woman you married when your obligation was to love and protect her," he said.
Among the aggravating factors cited by the judge were his involvement in the drug trade despite his competence in legitimate business, his disrespectful treatment of Winslow's body, his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his crime and his leaving his middle daughter, then 13, at home near the murder scene.
During the trial, the jury heard accounts of Dapolito as a controlling abuser as well as descriptions of the couple as inseparable and happy. They ultimately rejected the defense's claim that Winslow died because Dapolito and another distributor had cut out a third partner in their trafficking business.
Dapolito initially told authorities that he had gone to sleep on the bathroom floor next to his wife, high on cocaine and holding a gun in his right hand. He said a "pouf" noise woke him and he saw that Winslow was dead.
Dapolito put Winslow's body, a handcuff around her right wrist, in a basement freezer before moving it to his father's property in Upton. Dapolito's middle daughter was home while he moved the body, although he testified that she was supposed to be at her uncle's home. Dapolito turned himself in to Maine State Police three days after the shooting.
On Friday, the prosecution and defense presented family and friends to advocate for a longer or more lenient sentence, respectively. In addition to Winslow's daughter were two of Dapolito's daughters, with whom she had shared a household for years.
Angel Dapolito, the defendant's eldest daughter, said she felt blessed to have been part of the couple's happiness and that she misses Winslow dearly. She said her father created a loving atmosphere in their home not just for their family but for youths who needed a supportive environment and a place to stay.
When someone asked her about where she kept the key to her heart, Angel Dapolito recalled, she said it was the York County Jail. On the eve of her 21st birthday, she said, she stayed in the lobby of the jail so she could turn 21 with her father.
"He is my world, my heart, my hero," she said through tears. "My everything."