SALEM — The trial of a man charged with murdering his estranged wife in her Salem apartment nearly three years ago is set to get underway in September. 

Douglas Steeves Jr., 53, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the Aug. 2, 2016 strangulation death of 48-year-old Carmela Saunders Steeves. 

The trial is scheduled for Sept. 9. 

The couple had been married for 28 years, but they'd been together for longer. Their relationship started when Carmela was 14, she said in a restraining order affidavit prior to her death. Court papers revealed a history of violence in the relationship. 

Douglas Steeves was a member of a motorcycle club called The Broken Bones, and had allegedly threatened his wife just months before her death, saying, “I will take care of you. I don’t care what happens to me, but I will get you," according to an application for a restraining order she had filled out in May 2016. 

When the couple separated, he moved into a Peabody apartment. When he was asked to leave that apartment, however, Carmela allowed him to return to the apartment on Chandler Street in Salem where she lived with their teenage daughter, Steeves later told police.

While he was there, he answered a phone call from a man who had begun dating Carmela after the separation, he later told police, touching off an argument. 

It was during that argument that Steeves allegedly strangled his wife to death, police say.

The case had previously been scheduled for trial last year and then in January, but had been postponed at the request of the defense.  

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.