BANGOR, Maine — Three video surveillance tapes from buildings around where Christina Simonin’s bound and bagged body was found in March 2007 were shown Tuesday in the second day of the court case against Ashton Moores, the man accused of raping and beating her to death.
An audiotape in which Moores, 60, admits to borrowing a wheelbarrow from his landlord also was played for Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who is hearing Moores’ jury-waived rape and murder trial in Penobscot County Superior Court.
Moores is accused of savagely raping Simonin, 43, of Bangor and then killing her before using a wheelbarrow to move her body from his First Street apartment to where it was dumped beside a shed located between the Shaw House and an apartment building at 148 Union St.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson alleges that Moores is the man on the tapes. Detective Brent Beaulieu, who is part of the Bangor Police Department’s criminal investigative division, testified that Moores admitted to him that he indeed was the man on the tapes.
“He confessed he did go by the Shaw House at around midnight to return it [the wheelbarrow]” to his landlord at 215 Hammond St., the detective said on the stand Tuesday. “He said that was him returning the wheelbarrow.”
The first surveillance video, which was recorded at 12:43 a.m. March 3, 2007, shows a grainy figure pushing a wheelbarrow up First Street and the side driveway of the Shaw House, located on the corner of First and Union streets.
An item that appears to be wrapped in a blue tarp is clearly visible in the wheelbarrow in that video, which was provided by the Shaw House.
The second video, also from the Shaw House and displaying the same time and date, shows a figure from the waist up, passing in and out of view along the bottom of the picture frame and then again seconds later at the top of the shot going behind the shed.
The third video, which was provided by the Together Place, located at 150 Union St., shows a figure apparently attempting to get into a locked trash receptacle, then a figure crossing the screen from the Second Street side, heading toward First Street. A few seconds later, the figure returns with a wheelbarrow heading toward Second Street and then, after a few more seconds, the figure is back again heading toward First Street.
Simonin’s body was found by four teens at around 8 p.m. March 3, 2007, wrapped in a blue vinyl mattress cover and a comforter.
Defense attorneys Terence Harrigan and Seth Harrow tried to demonstrate that there is no way to determine whether the figure in the tapes is Moores. They claim their client is innocent and that there are two other men that police failed to investigate thoroughly, who could have killed Simonin.
Moores, who has an extensive criminal history, is charged with gross sexual assault, intentional or knowing murder and depraved-indifference murder. If convicted of murder, Moores faces 25 years to life in prison. The gross sexual assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical officer, testified Monday that Simonin died of “multiple traumatic injuries” and listed a head fracture, strangulation, chest fractures and sodomy. She also added that Simonin was alive when beaten and raped and could have died as a result of any of the brutal injuries.
On Tuesday the state produced witnesses who lived at the same apartment house with Moores, at 83 First St., or nearby at the time of the homicide. The witnesses testified to seeing a foam mattress with a blue vinyl cover in the hallway a few days before Simonin’s body was found. That mattress disappeared about the time the body was discovered. One witness said the next time he saw the mattress, it was shoved under the stairwell and it was missing its blue vinyl cover.
Four people also testified to smelling an overpowering odor in the First Street apartment building between a day and a week before the body was found. One witness said the last time he saw Simonin was Feb. 24.
Shirley Philbrick, who lived across the hall from Moores, testified that she gave Moores the comforter that was wrapped around the dead woman’s body.
Philbrick described the comforter, which had different patterns on the front and back, to police, and once shown pictures, verified the blood-soaked bed covering taken off the body was the same one she gave the defendant.
In his initial interview with police on March 5, Moores said he had not seen Simonin since Feb. 15. After police confronted him with information that a message had been delivered to Simonin at his apartment on Feb. 24, he changed his story and said the last time he saw her was Feb. 24, Detective Beaulieu said.
While interviewing Moores in his apartment, Beaulieu said he “saw a red-brown stain on the mopboard” that later was tested and found to be blood. The detective said that during a subsequent visit he found a foam mattress in the basement.
The cross-examination of Beaulieu by the defense will begin when Moores’ trial resumes Thursday morning.