A man who was charged in the death of his partner on a Maine beach has entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.
Police found 35-year-old Rhonda Pattelena dead on Short Sands Beach a year ago. An autopsy later determined she died from blunt force injury to the head.
Police charged Jeffrey Buchannan with murder stemming from Pattelena’s death. Both were from Bedford, Massachusetts.
This Monday, almost a year to the day of her slaying, Buchanan entered a plea in Pattelena’s murder case.
"We are entering a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity," said Jon Gale, a defense attorney for Buchanan.
During the proceedings, which lasted fewer than ten minutes, Gale added that he would be requesting an independent mental health evaluation of Buchanan and a judge ordered Buchanan continue to be held without bail.
An affidavit filed last year stated that witnesses reported seeing Buchannan leave the scene on foot before being apprehended, the Portsmouth Herald reported. Some of the assault was captured on a surveillance video from nearby businesses, the affidavit stated.
The video appeared to show Buchannan hit Pattelena while her back was turned to him. The affidavit stated that police collected evidence from the scene including the rock that appeared to be the weapon in the assault.
Buchannan told police he blacked out prior to the alleged assault.
Pattelena was already dead when police arrived; an autopsy concluded she died from head injuries.
State police said the two were domestic partners and had one child together. The child wasn’t present during the attack.
Public Facebook posts from Pattelena’s family and friends show she is still in their thoughts as the anniversary of her death comes near.
As of Monday, a cross remained on the site of a makeshift memorial for Pattelena overlooking Short Sands Beach.