BANGOR, Maine — Superior Court Justice William Anderson on Friday determined Ashton Moores was guilty of raping and murdering Christina Simonin.
Videotapes showing a figure pushing a wheelbarrow carrying something that appears to be wrapped in a blue tarp to the area where Simonin’s body was found in early March 2007 and evidence tying that wheelbarrow to Moores are what convinced him Moores was guilty, Anderson said.
Along with the videotapes, evidence that Simonin’s blood was in the wheelbarrow that Moores borrowed from his landlord as well as in the First Street apartment he shared with the victim were key factors in his findings, the judge said.
“When one adds all the evidence found at First Street with the evidence from the wheelbarrow … the only conclusion that we can come up with is that he is the one who killed her,” he said.
Moores, 61, who has an extensive criminal history mostly for arsons, is guilty of gross sexual assault, intentional or knowing murder and depraved-indifference murder, the judge said. He faces 25 years to life in prison for the murder and up to 30 years for the sexual assault.
Anderson, who oversaw the three-day jury-waived trial in Penobscot County Superior Court, said Moores’ sentencing would be held in late December or early January.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson prosecuted the case that maintained that Moores raped and killed Simonin, 43, and used the borrowed wheelbarrow to dump her bound and bagged body a block from his apartment.
Simonin’s mangled body was found by four teenagers at around 8 p.m. March 3, 2007, by a shed 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 of the Bangor Police Department’s criminal investigative division testified that day that Moores said 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.
The item that appears to be wrapped in a blue tarp is clearly visible in the wheelbarrow in that video, and the DNA evidence “indicates that she [Simonin] indeed was in the wheelbarrow,” Anderson said.
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 said he borrowed 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.
Blood found on a baseboard and under ripped-up carpet in Moores’ apartment at 83 First St. and inside the wheelbarrow he borrowed from his landlord match the dead woman’s, two forensic scientists from the Maine State Police crime laboratory testified on Thursday. They also said DNA from semen found on the victim’s underwear matched Moores’ DNA.
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 injuries she suffered.
Anderson referred to the sodomy rape, which ruptured the victim’s colon, as “brutal” before he found Moores guilty of gross sexual assault.
Defense attorneys Terence Harrigan and Seth Harrow claimed their client is innocent and that there are two other men, both former boyfriends of Simonin, whom police failed to investigate thoroughly who could have killed her.
After court adjourned, Harrigan declined to comment.
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 went missing around the same time she did. Feb. 24 was the last day she was seen alive.
Neighbors also testified that there was an unusual and overpowering smell in the building in the week before her body was found on March 3. One neighbor said she thought the smell could have been from a dead animal under the porch.
Moores did not testify during the three-day trial.
Nine members of Simonin’s family held hands in a circle before they entered the courtroom Friday afternoon to hear the verdict. They were quiet while Anderson read his finding, but hugged and cried while Moores was led away.
Moores, wearing a faded black polo shirt, beige pants and orange canvas jail shoes, looked directly forward during the reading of the verdict and didn’t appear to have any reaction to his guilty verdict.
“I thank the Lord for this verdict,” Simonin’s mother, Harriett Ross, said in the lobby of the courthouse. “We finally got justice. It gives me quite a bit of closure.”