By Judy Harrison, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - The sister of murder victim Mindy Gould remained Tuesday in the Penobscot County Jail on suicide watch. Melanie Bragg, 39, is charged with setting fire on Saturday to the Dexter house where Gould and the boy she was baby-sitting were killed execution style 41/2 years ago.
Bragg, who has no prior criminal history, appeared Tuesday in 3rd District Court in Bangor. She is charged with arson, a Class A felony. District Court Judge Jessie Gunther set bail at $15,000 surety or $3,000 cash, which Bragg was unable to make.
Gunther ordered that Bragg undergo a psychological evaluation to determine her competency to stand trial. Bragg was evaluated Friday and Saturday at two area hospitals because she had threatened suicide, but was not admitted to either.
The judge also scheduled a probable cause hearing on July 14 at 3rd District Court in Newport. The hearing will be held only if Bragg is not indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury before then, according to Gunther.
The incident that apparently led to the fire at 136 Church St., the Dexter home Bragg shared with Alan LaFountain, began Friday night as a domestic dispute, according to the affidavit, dated Sunday and signed by District Court Judge Kevin Stitham.
Dexter police arrested LaFountain, who was later released on bail, after being called to the residence. Bragg was taken Friday to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor after LaFountain told officers she was suicidal. Bragg was released from EMMC about 11:30 p.m., according to court documents.
Bragg left the Dexter house in a taxi about 10 minutes before the fire was reported by a neighbor at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday, according to court documents. The fire was extinguished within an hour by the Dexter Fire Department.
About 2 p.m. that day, investigators with the state Fire Marshal's Office determined that the fire had been set on the bed in the master bedroom, located on the first floor at the rear of the residence.
About an hour later, Bragg tried to cut her wrist and was taken to Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, according to court documents. She was released without being admitted, then arrested and charged with arson.
Bragg's 20-year-old sister and 21-month-old Treven Cunningham, were murdered on Dec. 3, 1999. Both victims were shot in the back of the head with a 9mm semiautomatic weapon. Bragg discovered the bodies.
Gould had sought refuge with her sister since ending a relationship with Jeffrey Cookson a few weeks earlier. He is serving two life sentences for murdering the pair.
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