Judge rejects appeal of Rockland murderer

By Stephen Betts | Nov 29, 2017
Source: File photo Arnold Diana, right, is pictured with his former attorney, Christopher MacLean, during the 2012 murder trial.

Rockland — A state judge has rejected an effort by a 42-year-old man to overturn his conviction for killing a Friendship woman at his apartment in Rockland in 2010.

Justice Daniel Billings issued his ruling Nov. 20 in the appeal by Arnold Diana.

Billings dismissed Diana's claim that he did not receive adequate legal representation at the 2012 trial.

The judge ruled attorney Christopher MacLean made practical strategic choices on what evidence to offer that benefited Diana. A hearing on the appeal was held July 27 in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland.

Diana claims that MacLean erred by failing to offer a photograph that the defendant claimed was of the alternative suspect touted by the defense. The photo showed a woman in the vicinity of the Thorndike Building, where the killing occurred. Billings said, however, that the photo was a blurry black-and-white photo taken from a distance and that the jurors could have concluded this was not the person offered as an alternative suspect. He said this could have made it look like the defense was desperate and could have harmed the defense attorney's credibility with the jury.

Billings also ruled that it was a strategic decision not to call a doctor to the stand who would have testified that he did not believe Diana could have physically caused the death. The judge pointed out that if the doctor had been allowed to testify, the state could have then introduced a confession by Diana to impeach the witness.

The confession had earlier been ruled inadmissible, although the court had also determined the incriminating statements were voluntary.

Diana was convicted of murder for the November 2010 death of Katrina Windred, a 48-year-old single mother. The woman died of strangulation and the prosecution maintained that Diana committed the crime in his apartment at the Thorndike Building on Main Street. The state also contended that he wrapped her body in a quilt, carried it late at night into a truck in the Thorndike parking lot and dumped her along the side of Thompson Meadow Road in Rockland. Her body was found three days later.

The defense had maintained during the July 2012 trial that Diana was innocent and that a woman with whom Diana had a prior relationship killed Windred out of jealousy. Prosecutor Linda Marchese said during the closing arguments in the 2012 trial that there was not a shred of evidence to support the alternative suspect claim.

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