Forensic science shows jury for Diana murder trial techniques of modern crime-solving
Rockland — Telephones, trash and laboratory testing dominated the testimony on the fifth day of the Arnold A. Diana murder trial at the Knox County Superior Court July 20.
Diana, 37, is charged with taking the life of Katrina Windred, 47, of Friendship on Nov. 20, 2010.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm is presiding, Assistant Attorneys General Lisa Marchese and Leane Zainea are prosecuting, and attorney Christopher MacLean and third-year law student Mark Coursey of the University of Maine School of Law are providing the defense.
The jury, selected a week ago on Friday, July 13, has had five full days of listening to the prosecution’s witnesses.
MacLean opened the proceedings July 20 with a cross-examination of Sgt. Jeffrey Love, a member of the Evidence Response Team, a special unit of the Maine State Police. The team examines major scenes to identify and establish the interrelationships of physical evidence involved in a crime. Love has been a member of the team for 10 years, he testified.
Love had ended the day before by testifying to a direct examination by Zainea on his role in sorting for evidence in the trash area of the Thorndike Apartments, where Windred was last seen on her way to visit Diana, a former boyfriend.
“You’re taught to gather evidence without contamination?” MacLean asked Love Friday morning.
“That’s the goal,” Love replied.
MacLean asked whether Love had measured the distance between the right and left tires of a Dodge Dakota pickup truck owned by Minnie Ann Wigmore, a friend of Diana, and was told no.
Love said he had measured the distance in the tracks found at Thompson Meadow Road, close to where Windred’s body had been found.
“I measured them to document them as evidence,” Love said, but he did not measure the distances on the actual truck or on Windred’s Volkswagen Jetta.
MacLean also showed a photograph of mud on the tires of the truck and on the Jetta, and pointed out that Thompson Meadow Road is a dirt road.
Turning to a photograph of evidence collected from Windred’s Volkswagen, MacLean asked why a red-brown stained pillowcase found in the back seat had not been mentioned in Love’s report. The defense attorney wanted to know why the pillowcase had not been sent to the crime lab, or why fingerprints were not taken from the Volkswagen.
Turning to trash sifting, Love said that on Nov. 22 he began investigating the bags behind the Thorndike and found one with a purple towel and a brown jacket with white markings. MacLean was concerned that Love had not documented the items, but Zainea said that Love had not received information before he began his search that those particular items had any significance.
Alexis Eon, a claims investigator with Verizon Wireless, took the stand to explain the way cell phones work to the jury, and went over a detailed call record for the cell phone number of Diana.
The closest Verizon tower to the Thorndike is at the Rockland Fire Station at 118 Park St.
Detective Sgt. Christopher Young of the Rockland Police Department followed Eon’s testimony with a discussion of Diana’s and Windred’s phone calls.
Young said he counted 15 calls between Diana and Windred on Nov. 19, the day before she disappeared.
She received no calls on her cell phone after 5:11 p.m. Nov. 20 until 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 21, and that was a call from Diana leaving a voice mail message, Young said.
There was no incoming call for her between 10:30 and 11 p.m. the night of Nov. 20, he said, which contradicted Diana’s story that Windred received a call from friends inviting her out for the rest of the night.
On the other hand, there were several calls between Diana and Wigmore, with some calls running upwards of 30 minutes, Young said.
Sgt. William Ross, a member of the MSP’s Evidence Response Team, took the stand to discuss trash investigation. He said he had arrived at 9:30 a.m. in Rockland on Nov. 23 to search the trash area behind the Thorndike.
“I was told the victim’s ex-boyfriend had an apartment in the building,” he said. “My assignment was to physically go through the trash. When I arrived, we started searching the area.”
He found the trash bag left open the day before with the purple towel and hooded brown and white jacket with a red-brown stain and a clump of hair on the hood. Ross put the items into a brown paper bag, documented them and sent them to the state police crime lab.
He was there the day Windred’s body was found and helped the chief medical examiner remove it, he said.
Rounding the day was Robert Burns, a forensic specialist with 18 years’ experience with the Maine State Crime Lab. Burns spoke to the jury about physical matching evidence that had been broken. He showed the jury how he had pieced together the purple towel found in the trash and matched the torn parts by lining up the embroidery and the jagged edges. The torn pieces were used as ligatures to bind the quilt that wrapped Windred’s body left in the woods.
“How much time did you spend analyzing the towel and ligature strips?” asked MacLean.
“I spent several hours,” said Burns.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117.