Courts and Crime

Elizabeth Noble

A Superior Court judge is weighing her options about what, if any, additional relief a Maine State Prison inmate should get after spending nearly two years in solitary confinement.

Earlier this year, Justice Michaela Murphy found that inmate Doug Burr’s procedural due process rights were violated by corrections staff during his lengthy segregation. He was released into general population just over a year ago, but Burr’s attorney wants to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

An inn in North Haven owned by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District is on the winning end of a Maine Supreme Court decision in a dispute with a neighbor who sought to prevent an expansion on the property.

The Nebo Lodge filed for a land use permit in order to tear down one of two existing buildings and replace it with a larger structure that would house, among other things, two bedrooms for staff, office space, a kitchen and storage.

The local planning board approved the application with conditions.

PORTLAND, Maine - The lawyer for a man challenging his decades-old murder conviction in Maine wants a special hearing after the lead detective in the case turned over more case files that he had been keeping in his attic.
Amy Fairfield, lawyer for Anthony Sanborn Jr., says the court needs to hear how the files ended up at retired Portland Detective James Daniels' home. The Portland Press Herald reports that Daniels recently gave a second batch of files to police after returning two boxes in April.

HOULTON, Maine - Jury selection is getting underway in the trial of a Maine man accused of a brutal killing in Houlton.

Testimony in the trial of Reginald Dobbins will begin after a jury is seated in Aroostook County Superior Court. The jury selection process was starting Thursday.

Dobbins has pleaded not guilty in the death of Keith Suitter.

A teenager also charged in the crime pleaded guilty last week. No sentencing date has been set for Samuel Geary, who was 16 at the time, but was charged as an adult.

A Superior Court justice says Maine Public and WGME TV must provide outtakes of interviews related to a 25-year-old murder conviction that’s under fire now for alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

In 1992, Anthony Sanborn was convicted of murdering Portland teen Jessica Briggs on a Portland pier. But from jail he has always maintained his innocence. And he was released on bail last month after a key witness recanted her original testimony, saying she had bad vision and was coached by police.

FARMINGTON, Maine - A judge has ruled a Maine a man who was banned from driving for life after a triple-fatal drunken driving crash can reapply for a license.
The Kennebec Journal reports that 39-year-old Bryan Carrier, of Fairfield, was denied for the third time when he tried to get his license back. Judge William Stokes ruled that a Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearing officer didn't have the authority to decide Carrier couldn't file another petition for a driver's license reinstatement.

Maine law enforcement officials are gearing up for their annual push for Maine’s seat belt laws.

Beginning Monday, 45 police agencies in the state are taking part in the 2-week Click It or Ticket campaign as the summer driving season gets underway.

Special enforcement efforts are planned for the first day of the campaign from 4 to 8 p.m. Thomas Reagan with the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety says motorists should expect to see lots of police officers taking part in “Border to Border” details Monday along the Maine-New Hampshire border.

A new development in what is expected to be a three-week-long trial involving a Somali couple charged with welfare fraud — a judge on Monday dismissed 14 of 15 counts against one of the defendants. The state’s case against Abdi Hassan that was supposed to begin Tuesday has now been postponed pending a further ruling from the court.

A Thorndike woman has been indicted on manslaughter charges in connection with the death of 72-year-old Joyce Woods of Burnham.

On April 2, Woods called 911 to report that an intruder was in her house. Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland says Woods later died in a car in her driveway.

“A family member had come to the house before deputies and troopers arrived on the scene. She sought refuge in that vehicle, and that’s when she was stricken and died,” he says.

McCausland says the cause of death has not yet been released by the medical examiner’s office.

The judge presiding over the Anthony Sanborn murder case has declined a motion to recuse herself.

The Maine Attorney General’s office made the request due to concerns over Justice Joyce Wheeler’s impartiality. The developing case calls into question a Sanborn’s conviction, handed down nearly 30 years ago.

The request is based on two statements she made during a bail hearing for Sanborn in April.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine man has been ordered to serve five years in prison for a hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a 25-year-old bicyclist in Windham.
Devin Brown of Scarborough reached a plea deal Monday in the crash that killed 26-year-old Brandon Dumond as he was riding his bicycle with his younger sister last November.
Police say the 33-year-old Brown was arrested after driving into a ditch a short time later. Brown, whose blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter and aggravated drunken driving.

Two natives of Iraq pleaded not guilty today to federal charges related to an alleged scheme run from a Portland halal market to defraud the government of welfare benefits.

Ali Ratib Daham, now a U.S. citizen, faces multiple charges, ranging from fraud to trafficking in government benefits and money-laundering. The most serious of the charges carry a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

His younger brother, Abdul Kareem Daham, a permanent U.S. resident who says he’s now enrolled at Southern Maine Community College, faces one count of fraud with a 5-year maximum penalty.

Some attorneys in Maine appointed to defend people who can’t afford a lawyer will have to wait nearly two months to get paid as state funding runs out.

PORTLAND, Maine - A former Maine police chief is defending the handling of a murder case.
WCSH-TV reports that former Portland Police Chief Mike Chitwood says he still believes Anthony Sanborn killed his childhood girlfriend, Jessica Briggs, in 1989. Sanborn served 27 years in prison, but was released on bail in April after a witness recanted her statement.

Patty Wight / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A lawyer trying to overturn a decades-old murder conviction says case files recently returned to police by a retired detective contained critical evidence that was never shown to the defense.