Murder suspect to ask court to throw out police interviews with him

Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance in Nov. 2010 at Knox County Superior Court. With Diana is his temporary attorney, Jeremy Pratt. Diana is charged with murder in connection with the death of Katrina Windred. On Friday, Diana will ask that much of the evidence in his case be thrown out, stating that police coerced him to confess.
Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance in Nov. 2010 at Knox County Superior Court. With Diana is his temporary attorney, Jeremy Pratt. Diana is charged with murder in connection with the death of Katrina Windred. On Friday, Diana will ask that much of the evidence in his case be thrown out, stating that police coerced him to confess.
Posted Aug. 25, 2011, at 7:37 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 25, 2011, at 8:48 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — On Friday, an accused murderer will ask that much of the evidence in his case be thrown out, stating that police coerced him to confess.

Arnold Diana is charged with the murder of Katrina Windred, a 47-year-old Friendship woman.

Knox County Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm will look over five different motions in the case Friday morning.

Diana’s attorney, Christopher MacLean of Camden, in motions filed in May alleges that seven different police officers either wrongly searched Diana’s home or improperly interrogated him and that evidence they found should not be allowed to enter the courtroom during Diana’s trial.

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. That night, Diana allegedly 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, two police officers entered Diana’s Main Street apartment and told him 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.

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 officers had him sign a waiver that said he consented to having his apartment searched, but MacLean wrote that Diana is essentially illiterate and thus those police too violated the Fourth Amendment and their evidence should be moot.

By lunchtime that day, Nov. 21, a police detective sat with Diana at The Salvation Army in Rockland where the suspect 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 that “suggests that Ms. Windred was neither killed nor even harmed in Mr. Diana’s apartment” and so all evidence from that search also should be omitted from the trial.

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 Windred’s death. 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 addition to requests to hide evidence, Diana also will ask to change the trial venue from the Rockland court in hopes that finding an unbiased jury will be easier elsewhere.

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

Rockland police could not comment on the case or the attorney’s allegations against the department.

Diana is being held in Knox County Jail without bail. He does not yet have a trial date. His hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday in Knox County Superior Court. MacLean said it’s unlikely the justice will rule on his motions immediately.

“It could take a month or more,” he said.

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