The former state prosecutor who won a murder conviction against Anthony Sanborn 25 years ago was in court Friday to defend her work. Former Assistant Attorney General Pam Ames denied wrongdoing in the decades-old case that is now the subject of a hearing that could set Sanborn free.
After Anthony Sanborn was convicted of murdering teenager Jessica Briggs, Ames, the lead prosecutor in the case, held a post-trial conference. The purpose, she said on the witness stand in court on Friday, was to identify problems during the trial.
Sanborn’s attorney Amy Fairfield zeroed in on the meeting’s notes, which refer to cross-checking alternative suspects and alibis.
“Is it fair to say that cross-checking alibis for alternative suspects was a concern that people in that room had?” Fairfield said.
“It is not,” Ames said.
Asked to clarify, Ames explained that more diligent checking on alibis was needed to better respond to alternative suspects presented by the defense.
Ames remained firm on the integrity of her work throughout questioning, including when Fairfield asked about an alternative suspect that key witness Hope Cady mentioned to police. Cady, who testified in the original trial that she witnessed the murder, also told police about a man named Dusty who assaulted her in the days following the crime.
“The eyewitness in the case is telling the police about another suspect who is attacking her with a razor in the days after the homicide was committed, this person was coming forward, is that something you would want to know as a defense attorney?” Fairfield said.
After an objection and several clarifying questions, Ames answered.
“I still don’t see a connection between her being assaulted, and her witnessing a homicide,” she said.
Sanborn’s attorneys allege that Ames and two former Portland police detectives withheld evidence in the original trial that could have exonerated Sanborn.
Sanborn has been out on bail since April, when Cady recanted her original testimony that she witnessed Sanborn commit the murder.
The success of his post conviction hearing, and his potential freedom, will come down to whether his attorneys can show th at a new trial would likely result in a different verdict. The hearing began Oct. 10, and is expected to run at least through the beginning of November.
This story was originally published Oct. 20, 2017 at 2:29 p.m. ET.