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Rockland murder trial to start in two weeks

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Arnold Diana looks toward the gallery during his initial appearance on Monday, Nov. 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.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Twenty months after the body of a 47-year-old Friendship mother was found dumped on the side of a remote road in Rockland, the man accused of her murder will go on trial.

Arnold A. Diana, 37, is charged with murder in the Nov. 20, 2010, strangulation death of Katrina Windred. Police have stated in documents filed in court that Diana strangled Windred in his apartment at the Thorndike building in downtown Rockland after she had dropped off groceries for him.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Friday, July 13, in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland. Opening statements and the first witnesses are scheduled to be presented to the jury the following Monday, July 16.

The prosecution will be unable to present to jurors a confession that Diana made to state police investigators four days after Windred’s body was found wrapped in a blanket along the Thompson Meadow Road by a man walking his dog.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm ruled in March that statements made by Diana to Maine State Police on Nov. 27 at the Rockland Police Station may not be used at trial because investigators had continued questioning the suspect after he had asked for it to end.

The defense has asked the court to allow the jurors to make a visit to the Thorndike apartment building on Main Street so that they can become familiar with the layout of the building. The Thorndike is one block away from the courthouse in the center of the city.

The defense also has asked permission to offer an alternative suspect defense if evidence it receives as part of its preparation for trial indicates that route. The information would have to be presented to the judge before it could be presented to the jury.

If convicted, Diana could face a life sentence.

In the confession that was thrown out, Maine State Police Detectives Michael Mitchell and Dean Jackson had questioned Diana for nearly two hours when he said, according to police reports, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do no more.” When the detectives continued to ask the defendant about his involvement, Diana said again, “I’m calling this over. I can’t.”

Documents filed in September in Knox County Superior Court detailed what statements Diana made toward the end of that Nov. 27 interview after he had asked for the questioning to stop.

Among the statements being suppressed, Diana claimed that Windred 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 police transcripts.

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 behind the apartment complex, and bring him upstairs. Diana told the boy that Windred was sleeping but the boy knew something was wrong because Windred had a medical condition that didn’t allow her to lie flat on a bed, the police reports stated.

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 wrapped her body in a blanket, tied it with bits of towel and dragged her down several flights of stairs. He left bloody handprints on the walls and in the stairwell, according to police. 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 to catch his breath.

“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 told police, according to their records filed in court. “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.”

Windred’s son woke up about 3 a.m. asking where his mom went. Arnold told him she had gone out with friends, 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.

“That’s everything,” he told police at the end of his three-hour interview.

The prosecution will be allowed to present evidence collected as the result of two separate earlier searches of Diana’s apartment, including a bloody pillow sheet.

Diana is represented by attorney Christopher MacLean of Camden.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office will prosecute the case.

Justice Hjelm will preside over the trial.

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