Accused murderer was coerced into confession, attorney says

Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance at Knox County Superior Court in Nov. 2010.
Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance at Knox County Superior Court in Nov. 2010.
Posted May 13, 2011, at 6:31 p.m.
Katrina Windred
Photo courtesy of Elenor Richardson
Katrina Windred

ROCKLAND, Maine — Police coerced accused murderer Arnold Diana into confessing that he strangled his ex-girlfriend, his attorney wrote in court documents this week.

Christopher MacLean filed five motions this week in defense of Diana, who is charged with the murder of Katrina Windred, a 47-year-old Friendship woman.

MacLean alleges that seven different police officers either wrongly searched Diana’s home or improperly interrogated him and that certain evidence they found should not be allowed to enter the courtroom when Diana’s trial comes.

Calls to the Attorney General’s Office were not immediately returned Friday.

According to police reports filed in Knox County Superior Court, on Nov. 20, Windred visited Diana at his home. At some point the evening grew violent and ended with the woman strangled to death.

Windred’s child reportedly had been waiting for his mom outside in the car while she visited Diana. Diana brought the boy inside and told him his mother was asleep. The boy later fell asleep on the floor near his dead mother.

Once the boy was asleep, the report states, Diana dragged Windred’s body down to a truck and drove her to the outskirts of Rockland, dumping her body near a quarry.

The day after Windred’s death, in one of the first searches of Diana’s Main Street apartment, the two policemen who entered told Diana that they were there for a probation check.

“The ‘quick check’ turned out to be significantly more extensive and involved search and virtual ransacking of Mr. Diana’s apartment,” MacLean wrote in a motion in Knox County Superior Court on Wednesday.

While at the apartment, the detectives asked about Windred.

MacLean argues that the search went beyond a probation check and because the police did not have a search warrant or Diana’s permission, the police violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy. MacLean asks the justice in the motion to omit anything police found in the apartment during that search, anything they heard Diana say or anything they saw.

Later that morning, two different police officers stopped by Diana’s apartment and asked to search it. The offficers had him sign a waiver that said he consented to having his apartment searched.

“Although Mr. Diana purportedly signed a boilerplate written consent to search form, Mr. Diana has a third grade education and can neither read nor write,” MacLean wrote.

They too violated the Fourth Amendment and their evidence should be moot as well, MacLean argues.

By lunchtime that day, Nov. 21, a police detective sat with Diana at The Salvation Army in Rockland where the accused murderer was having a meal. Without reading Diana his Miranda rights, the detective began “interrogating” him for more than three hours, MacLean wrote.

In a fourth interview, early the morning of Nov. 22, another pair of police officers went to Diana’s apartment to ask him questions. Diana again was not read his rights, according to his attorney.

By Nov. 23, Maine State Police received a search warrant to again look through Diana’s apartment for evidence. MacLean said the police only were awarded the search warrant because they left out essential information, and so all evidence from that police search also should be omitted from the trial.

To support this, MacLean attached a Maine State Police transcript of messages Diana left on one of his friend’s phones the night after Windred’s death.

“Hi,” Diana said. “This is a very big emergency. I’m stuck with [Windred’s child] all last night. I’ve been trying to call Katrina on her cell phone but there is no answer. Her car is here. She showed up here last night. She was planning on just dropping off stuff, but she got a phone call and I guess that plans change.”

Further, MacLean wrote, the Maine State Police had spoken to Windred’s young son who told them that he heard her distinct snore the night of Nov. 20 when police said she had been lying dead in Diana’s bed.

This “suggests that Ms. Windred was neither killed nor even harmed in Mr. Diana’s apartment and that Mr. Diana had no idea of Ms. Windred’s whereabouts the day after her appearance.”

Because this information was omitted from the search warrant application state police filled out, they might have wrongly received the justice’s permission. MacLean asks in yet another motion for a court hearing to address this issue.

MacLean also alleges that Diana’s probation officer and a detective brought Diana to the Rockland Police Department on Nov. 27 to speak with him about the slaying. They read him his Miranda rights, and Diana said he didn’t understand what the rights meant or what would happen if he didn’t want to talk, MacLean wrote. The police nevertheless questioned Diana and recorded the interview.

“Diana maintained his innocence consistently for the first hour and 38 minutes of the interrogation, despite relentless badgering,” MacLean wrote.

“I’m sorry. I can’t do no more,” Diana told police at the time. “I’m calling this over.”

But police kept going with their interviews, MacLean wrote. More than midway into the second hour of questioning, the detectives took Diana outside to smoke cigarettes.

“During that 27 minutes that are not captured on tape, the detectives told Mr. Diana that they were going to keep him in custody until he told them what they wanted to hear. They assured him he would be treated more leniently if he admitted he accidentally killed Ms. Windred in his apartment,” MacLean wrote. “When the recorded interview resumed, Mr. Diana parroted back the story that the detectives had told him to admit to.”

MacLean wrote that because Diana didn’t understand his rights, had requested to stop the interviews, and appeared to be repeating what officers told him to say, he was speaking involuntarily and so the evidence should not be used in court.

In two other motions, the attorney asks for a two-month extension to consider entering a mental health defense and asks for a change of venue. He requests the trial be moved to another county to ensure “a fair trial free from the taint of pretrial publicity.”

The justice did not respond to any of the motions by Friday afternoon.

Diana is being held in Knox County Jail without bail. He will have his next court appearance in Knox County Superior Court on Aug. 1. He does not yet have a trial date.

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