Portland hospital can’t withhold records in manslaughter case, court rules

Posted May 17, 2012, at 9:41 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s highest court has ruled that a Portland hospital can’t withhold documents related to the death of the alleged victim in a manslaughter trial.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday denied the appeal by Mercy Hospital, which was fighting the disclosure of information related to the death of 46-year-old Roger Downs Jr.

The hospital said the information is confidential.

Ernest Weidul is charged with manslaughter in Downs’ May 2010 death. The prosecution says Downs died from injuries caused by Weidul. The defense says Downs died from pneumonia and was seeking the hospital records to bolster that claim.

One of Weidul’s lawyers tells The Portland Press Herald he thinks the records “will affirm our theory and help us prevail.”

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday morning.