Oral arguments heard Feb. 11

Diana murder appeal hearing begins

By Juliette Laaka | Feb 12, 2014
Photo by: File photo Arnold Diana, front, sits with Defense Attorney Christopher MacLean during his trial in 2012.

Portland — During oral arguments at the Maine Supreme Court Feb. 11, the defense for convicted murderer Arnold Diana argued the conviction should be overturned, and further contends the sentence of 45 years exceeds the standard rate applied to domestic violence murders.

Former defense attorney for Diana, Christopher MacLean of Camden filed the appeal in November 2012. Attorney Jeremy Pratt, also of Camden, has taken over Diana's defense and argued before the justices of the high court in Portland.

Diana was convicted in October 2012 in Knox County Superior Court to serve 45 years in prison for the 2010 murder of Katrina Windred, 47, in Rockland.

During his 15 minutes before the justices, Pratt said he focused on two aspects of the trial, that Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, during sentencing double counted that the victim's son was present at the time of the murder during the two-step analysis to reach a sentence, and the length of the sentence, which is 10 years more than similar cases. Pratt said this includes the conviction of Arline Lawless of Waldoboro who shot and killed her boyfriend Norman Benner of Friendship. Lawless was sentenced to 35 years in prison in August 2013 for the crime.

Diana contends the court erred in four ways during his 2012 trial, according to the Maine Supreme Court schedule on maine.gov.

Those errors include denying his motion to suppress the evidence resulting from three searches of his residence by law enforcement officers, allowing a prospective juror who was once a victim of domestic violence to serve on the jury,  denying his motions to exclude certain physical evidence and failing to exclude expert and non-expert testimony concerning the significance of that evidence, and setting his basic sentence at 40 years before arriving at a final sentence of 45 years, the site states.

In the written appeal, MacLean argues the judge, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, when determining the length of the sentence, should not have taken into consideration that the victim's child was present around the time of the murder.

During the early evening of Nov. 20, 2010, Windred drove to Diana’s apartment building, the Thorndike Apartments, with her 11-year-old son. She entered the building and went to Diana’s apartment while her son remained outside in the car.

A sudden dispute flared up between Diana and Windred, and she died by strangulation during a brief altercation, said the affidavit.

He then brought Windred’s son to the apartment, explained that his mother had taken a nap.

After the boy went to sleep that night, Diana removed Windred's body from the apartment.

During the sentencing part of the trial, Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm set the basic period of incarceration at 40 years, according to the affidavit. Hjelm relied on a 2010 case, State v. Waterman, in which the earlier court considered as part of its basic sentence analysis that the defendant placed his three children in danger by having them in his car at the time of the shooting.

Exposing children to violence or murder exposes a risk of physical harm, and witnessing horrific violence can create devastating emotional harm in children, the 2010 court said.

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber could not be reached.

Pratt said a decision by the justices could take between two and 12 months.

The oral arguments will be posted on the Maine Supreme Court website Friday, Feb. 14.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401, ext. 118, or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

 

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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