Diana murder trial ends third day with law enforcement testimony
Rockland — The prosecution presented witnesses from law enforcement on the third day of the Arnold Diana murder trial Wednesday, July 18.
The workday in the Knox County Superior Courtroom began at 9 a.m. with the first witness and ended at 4 p.m., after a lunch break, with a nearly three-hour recorded interview between former Maine State Police Detective Michael Mitchell and Arnold Diana, 37, the man charged with killing Katrina Windred, 47, in November 2010.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese first placed Detective Donald Murray of the Knox County Sheriff's Office on the witness stand to talk about his investigation of the disappearance of Windred Nov. 20, 2010.
The case began with a missing person complaint from John Savage, a friend of Windred, calling the sheriff’s office to say that she had not returned home when she was expected. Deputy Dave Johnson went to Windred’s home in Friendship to investigate and found nobody there, Murray said.
“I called Savage back,” said Murray. “At 9:30 a.m. Nov. 21, Tiffany Walker, a close friend of Windred, called the office and expressed concern for her well-being,” he said.
Murray then talked with Guy Johnson, Windred’s ex-husband, who gave the sheriff’s office permission to go into the house, which he said he still owned. There was no sign of anyone there, but the deputy went inside to find her spare car keys.
“Detective Palmer gave me her keys, I called Detective Dwight Burtis, and we proceeded to Rockland to find her car,” Murray said, adding that at the time he still held the rank of deputy and not detective.
The two men found her car, a black Volkswagen Jetta, in the parking lot behind the Thorndike Apartments on Main Street in Rockland. The doors were locked, and Windred’s dog, a pit bull named Anson, was in the back seat.
By then, Windred’s friend Walker joined the search and took charge of the dog, taking it to her home.
Windred had gone to the Thorndike with her son at 5 p.m. Nov. 20 to take belongings and food to Diana. She left her son and dog in the car and went into the apartment building. It was the last time family members and friends ever saw her alive.
Murray and Burtis called Diana and arranged to meet him at his apartment at the Thorndike to discuss any information he might have had on Windred’s well-being, Murray said.
“Detective Burtis had a tape recorder for an interview,” Murray said.
Inside the apartment, which they entered with Diana’s permission, Murray found a pillow with a dark stain on the top shelf of a closet.
Marchese entered the pillow as an exhibit in the court.
Diana said the stain was blood from an accident Windred had when she got her period.
“I left the pillow in that area,” Murray said.
Defense attorney Christopher MacLean asked Murray if he and Burtis were the first law enforcement officers to enter Diana’s apartment.
“Yes,” Murray replied.
“Was Diana friendly and cooperative?” MacLean asked.
“Yes,” said Murray.
“He allowed you to go into the apartment, didn’t he?" asked MacLean.
“Yes,” Murray said.
Detective Burtis, a six-year veteran of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and a 17-year member of law enforcement with the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police Department, testified that after Murray called him, he went to the Soup Kitchen at the Salvation Army, where Diana was known to go and where he had friends.
Burtis gave Diana a ride back to the apartment and recorded a five-minute interview with the suspect en route. Later on, he recorded a 20-minute interview at the apartment. Marchese entered both recordings as exhibits and played them for the jury.
The court heard Diana say that he and Windred were “just friends now,” although they had been lovers for more than a year.
The name of Minnie Ann Wigmore came up during the interrogation as someone who spent time with Diana.
Diana said he had been adjusting a tarp in the back of a pickup truck owned by Wigmore of Vinalhaven at 1 a.m. Nov. 21.
Diana said he does not drive and has no driver’s license but that he was helping a friend.
Burtis said he called Deputy Larry Heseltine on Vinalhaven, who went to Wigmore's home on Nov. 24 and learned that she was a renter on the island. Burtis said that he called her later in the evening.
In testimony given by former Detective Mitchell, which went on for nearly three hours in a recording of his initial interview with Diana, several discrepancies began to surface between the story that Diana told Mitchell and the story told by Windred’s 12-year-old son about the details of the night of his mother’s disappearance.
Mitchell, who is now a special agent in the U.S. Department of Defense, was recorded pressing Diana to tell the truth about what happened that night.
Diana would reply over and over, “Nothin’. I didn’t do nothin.’”
Mitchell at the outset told Diana that he could stop the interview at any time he chose.
Diana admitted that he and Windred had been a couple but broke up three months ago.
Mitchell said mutual friends had told police the breakup wasn’t as friendly as Diana had indicated, especially after Windred told him that she had a new boyfriend.
The interview in court stopped at 4 p.m., as presiding Justice Jeffrey Hjelm said that questions to Mitchell by the prosecution and the defense would begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.