BANGOR, Maine — Forensic experts say DNA evidence presented in court on Thursday connects Ashton Moores to the woman he is accused of raping and murdering.
Blood found on a baseboard and under ripped-up carpet in Moores’ First Street apartment and inside a wheelbarrow he borrowed from his landlord match Christina Simonin, two forensic scientists from the Maine State Police crime laboratory testified. They also said semen found on the victim’s underwear matches Moores’ DNA.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson alleges that Moores, 60, raped and killed Simonin, 43, who was staying with him, and used the wheelbarrow to dump her bound and bagged body on March 3, 2007, a block from the residence they shared.
“There is no evidence pointing at anyone else than Ashton Moores,” Benson said during his closing arguments.
Defense attorneys Terence Harrigan and Seth Harrow claim their client is innocent and that there are two other men, both former boyfriends of Simonin, that police failed to investigate thoroughly who could have killed her.
Harrow asserted, during his closing arguments, that “there is no direct evidence linking Mr. Moores to this crime.” He also said that the small amount of blood collected from Moores’ baseboard is “inconsistent with the amount of blood” expected to be created in the brutal way Simonin was murdered.
He did not mention the “fairly large area of red-brown stain” found under Moores’ carpet by Sgt. Paul Edwards, that the forensic scientists said Thursday was the victim’s blood.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson is hearing Moores’ jury-waived trial in Penobscot County Superior Court.
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, he faces 25 years to life in prison. The gross sexual assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Justice Anderson said Thursday he would consider all the evidence and issue his verdict around 2:30 p.m. today.
Simonin’s mangled body was found by four teenagers at around 8 p.m. March 3, 2007, behind an apartment building at 148 Union St. The body was wrapped in a blue vinyl mattress cover and a comforter.
Three video surveillance tapes from buildings around where Simonin’s body was found were entered into evidence on Tuesday, and Detective Brent Beaulieu, who is part of the Bangor Police Department’s criminal investigative division, also testified that day that Moores admitted to him that he was the man on the tapes.
The first surveillance video, which was recorded at 12:43 a.m. March 3, shows a grainy figure pushing a wheelbarrow up First Street and the side driveway of the Shaw House at 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.
An audiotape in which Moores admits to borrowing a wheelbarrow from his landlord also was played Tuesday, and a neighbor who lived across the hall from Moores at the time of the homicide testified that she gave him the comforter that was wrapped around the dead woman
Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical officer, testified Monday that Simonin died of “multiple traumatic injuries” and she listed a head fracture, strangulation, chest fractures and sodomy. She also said that Simonin was alive when she was beaten and raped and that she could have died as a result of any of the brutal injuries she suffered.
In his initial interview with police on March 5, 2007, 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 that day was the last time he saw her, Detective Beaulieu said.
Several neighbors who lived in the same building as Moores in March 2007, testified that a mattress with a blue vinyl covering was outside Moores’ apartment during the week before Simonin’s disappearance, and that it disappeared around the same time she did.
They also testified that there was an unusual and overpowering smell in the building in the week before her body was found on March 3. Feb. 24 was the last day she was seen alive. One neighbor said she thought the smell was from an animal that had died underneath the porch.
Harrow told Justice Anderson that he should find his client not guilty because the state failed to produce a murder weapon, and only has presented what he called “circumstantial evidence.”
“There is no known date of death, there is a range of one to three days [from when the body was found], and no known location of where the death occurred,” he said.
Benson ended the trial by saying he “disagrees with virtually everything Mr. Harrow has said.” He also said, “this is not rocket science. If you do use your common sense, all the evidence points at one person — Ashton Moores.”
Moores did not testify during the three-day trail.