Judge throws out confession by Rockland murder suspect

Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance on Monday, November 29, 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.
Bangor Daily News file photo by Kevin Bennett
Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance on Monday, November 29, 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.
Posted March 29, 2012, at 12:22 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A confession made by a 36-year-old Rockland man accused in the strangulation death of a Friendship woman in 2010 cannot be used at his upcoming trial.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm issued a 25-page order Thursday on the motions made on behalf of Arnold A. Diana by his defense attorney. Diana is charged with intentional or knowing murder in connection with the Nov. 20, 2010, death of Katrina Windred.

Hjelm ruled that statements made by Diana to Maine State Police toward the end of an interview conducted on Nov. 27 are suppressed because Diana had asked for the questioning to end. Diana confessed to his role in the murder toward the end of the Nov. 27 interview.

The judge also ruled that two separate searches of Diana’s apartment at the Thorndike apartment building on Main Street in Rockland were proper and any evidence seized, including a bloody pillow sheet, can be used at trial.

The trial is scheduled to start July 13 with jury selection. Diana remains held without bail at the Knox County Jail in Rockland.

“The court found that the Maine State Police violated Mr. Diana’s constitutional rights when they continued interrogating him after Mr. Diana invoked his right to remain silent,” according to a statement issued Thursday from defense attorney Christopher MacLean’s Camden office.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said the ruling would not have a significant impact on the state’s case. Marchese, who is prosecuting the case, said there are other statements made by Diana and physical evidence that can be used.

The Nov. 27, 2010, interview began after Diana had arrived back in Rockland after visiting Vinalhaven. He was met at the Maine State Ferry Terminal in Rockland by state police who intended to arrest him for murder.

Windred’s body had been found Nov. 23, 2010, along the side of the Thompson Meadow Road in a rural part of Rockland. The woman had left her home in Friendship three days earlier to drop off groceries for Diana.

Maine State Police Detectives Michael Mitchell and Dean Jackson took Diana to the Rockland police station on Nov. 27 and began questioning him at 4:15 p.m. Shortly before 6 p.m., after “an extended, sometimes repetitive and often intense discussion of the investigators’ accusations, the defendant said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t do no more,’” Justice Hjelm’s order states.

When the detectives continued to ask the defendant about his involvement, Diana said again, “I’m calling this over. I can’t,” Hjelm points out.

The detectives continued to question Diana and then allowed him to step outside for nearly 30 minutes to smoke a cigarette. While outside, Jackson continued to question the suspect, who eventually made statements about Windred’s condition and then made “inculpatory” statements.

Documents filed in September in Knox County Superior Court detailed what statements Diana made toward the end of that Nov. 27 interview.

Among the statements being suppressed, Diana claimed that Windred, 47, had come to his home a few days before Thanksgiving 2010 to drop off some groceries and that she got mad at him and pushed him.

“She pushed me [at] my apartment by the front door. And there I just lost it. I guess I grabbed her,” Diana told police, according to transcripts of the interview.

Diana told police that when he grabbed her, both fell to the floor. He said that he was on top of her for a few moments and she scratched at his head. When he stood up, Windred was still alive but apparently not conscious, he said.

Not knowing what to do, he put her face-down on his bed and covered her with a blanket. Her face was on top of a pillow that police later found hidden under Diana’s mattress. The pillow was soaked with “a significant volume of blood,” police reported.

“She was still breathing a little bit when I put her on the bed. I was hoping she’d snap out of it. When I realized she wasn’t breathing, I got scared,” Diana told police. “I was like, ‘What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?”

He decided to get Windred’s 11-year-old son out of her car, which was parked outside the apartment, and bring him upstairs. He told the boy that Windred was sleeping. The boy knew something was wrong because Windred had a medical condition that didn’t allow her to lie flat on a bed. She always slept sitting up in bed, he told police. Always.

As the boy’s bedtime came, Diana said he put the boy on the bed next to his mother, where he fell asleep.

Around midnight, Diana decided he had to get Windred’s body out of the house. He wrapped her in a blanket, tied it with bits of towel and dragged her down several flights of stairs. His bloody hands left prints on the walls and in the stairwell. He dragged the 110-pound body to his new girlfriend’s pickup truck and put it in the passenger’s seat. Then he went back to his apartment and sat in his chair, exhausted and sweaty.

After catching his breath, he headed back to the truck while Windred’s son slept.

“I just got in [my girlfriend’s] truck and just drove. I went down Limerock Street and then I saw a dirt road and said ‘all right,’” Diana said. “I noticed a bend and parked there and pulled her out and dragged her over there and put her there. I got back in [the] truck and drove back.”

For the next couple of hours he sat in his apartment thinking. Around 3 a.m. Windred’s son woke up asking where his mom went. Arnold told him she had gone out with friends.

“I didn’t know what else to say,” he told police.

Diana brought the boy the following morning to the boy’s father and told people that Windred had gone off to meet some friends.

The day he confessed, Nov. 27, 2010, was the first time Diana had ever told anyone what happened the night of Nov. 20.

“That’s everything,” he told police at the end of his three-hour interview. He was arrested and charged with murder later that night.

Justice Hjelm also ruled that a portion of a state police interview conducted on Nov. 22 cannot be used because it had become more of a custodial situation and Diana should have had his Miranda warnings read to him.

Police had read Diana his Miranda rights at the start of the Nov. 27 interview.

BDN writer Heather Steeves contributed to this report.

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