WISCASSET — A judge has ordered the Maine Office of the Attorney General to provide its investigative records surrounding the June 2020 stabbing death of Roger Feltis on Vinalhaven, which after a judicial review will be released to the father of the slain man.

Roger Feltis

Justice Daniel Billings issued his ruling Oct. 28 in Lincoln County Superior Court in the lawsuit filed in June 2021 by Lester Feltis against Attorney General Aaron Frey seeking those records under the state’s Freedom of Access law.

The AG’s Office will be able to redact certain information from the records but Justice Billings rejected a string of arguments made by the Attorney General to keep records confidential. The records will include transcripts of 911 calls as well as transcripts of audio and video recordings.

“The court does not agree that this statute requires the court to prevent public scrutiny of police investigative records forever,” Justice Billings stated. “The investigation at issue in this case ultimately did not result in charges. However, the court cannot abide the idea that the mere existence of an investigation where an individual is a suspect but no charges are brought against the person implies that because confidential criminal history record information is in the file renders the entire file confidential.”

Justice Billings stated that endorsing that argument would “undermine the basic purpose of the FOAA, which is to enable the public to be informed about what their government is up to.”

The public has a legitimate interest in understanding why the police and Office of the Attorney General proceeded in the way they did, and why no charges may have resulted from their investigation, the judge ruled.

Lester Feltis said Friday, Nov. 11 that he was happy with the ruling.

“I had zero faith in the justice system. The ruling has given us a little faith and a little hope,” Lester Feltis said.

Roger Feltis died June 14, 2020, on Vinalhaven. Police said he died from a stab wound after confronting a couple he believed was harassing him.

The AG’s Office presented that case to a grand jury in Knox County during the first week of July 2020; the jury issued two no bills, meaning a majority of jurors did not find probable cause to believe Dorian Ames, 29, and Briannah Ames, 31, committed a crime.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Lester Feltis, however, contends that several eyewitnesses’ statements make it clear the killing was not self-defense.

The lawsuit also claims that the AG’s office wants a confidentiality agreement because it knew there was misconduct by law enforcement, and does not want that information to be public.

“Every witness who witnessed Roger’s murder said the same thing: Roger Feltis approached the residence of the two persons who ultimately killed him and, as he stood outside on the deck leading to the residence and was hollering to the occupants about his brake lines on his truck being cut. The male stepped onto the porch wielding an axe, which caused Roger to back up away from the residence.

“Suddenly, the female rushed onto the porch and at Roger, and began punching him and hollering to the male to ‘hit him, hit him with the axe,’ or words to that effect, which is what the male did, ultimately killing Roger,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also contends that law enforcement officers committed some type of misconduct, but the lawsuit nor Fairfield detailed those alleged acts.

“Plaintiff knows of information in the File that is misconduct that should have led to final discipline, and based upon what is known, it is unfathomable that the conduct is was not punished,” the lawsuit states.

“The Office of Attorney General cannot conceal known misconduct on behalf of law enforcement by utilizing statutory confidentiality and interpretation, to suggest that the entire File is confidential under any circumstances,” the lawsuit states.

The AG’s Office had offered the father the right to review the investigative reports but required him to sign a confidentiality agreement that would prevent information from ever becoming public. He refused that condition and filed the lawsuit.

The court order requires the AG’s Office to provide the court with the file, with some redactions consistent with his 18-page ruling, within 45 days of the issuance of the ruling.

The AG had argued the file should be kept confidential for several reasons including the protect the privacy of the Feltis family.

An email was left Thursday with Feltis’ attorney Amy Fairfield but no response was received by Friday evening.

State Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, who has been an advocate for the family in getting information on the case, issued a statement Friday, Nov. 11 on the court order.

“This is a huge victory for the Feltis family. Obtaining the files will allow the Feltis family to investigate police misconduct in this case and to pursue legal and civil justice. Why did Briannah Ames have over 550 messages with a Sheriff’s deputy and state police officer in a six month period? Why did the police and Maine’s Attorney General drop this case like hot potato? As an advocate for the family, we believe those connections contributed to a soft investigation,” the state representative from Friendship stated.

He said from the beginning, the Feltis family willingly forfeited their privacy rights and wanted the files in Roger’s death to become public.

“The fact that the Attorney General asserted to the Court he was protecting the family’s privacy by sealing the documents is so patently absurd, it’s laughable. This is a cover up, plain and simple,” Evangelos said.

Justice Billings also rejected the AG’s argument that the Ames’ had privacy rights, noting they had posted a Facebook live video of them responding to accusations against them after the grand jury declined to charge them.

An email was sent Thursday afternoon Nov. 10 to Attorney General Aaron Frey but no response had been received as of Friday evening.