AUBURN — A judge poised to preside over Buddy Robinson’s murder trial next week ruled recently that discussion of allegedly incriminating text messages a witness said she received from Robinson will be allowed at trial.
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy also ruled that cellphone-tower data relating to Robinson’s cellphone use between the time Christiana Fesmire went missing in July and mid-September 2011 will be allowed at trial.
Attorneys argued two weeks ago on pretrial motions in an effort to bolster their respective cases at the upcoming trial.
A jury is scheduled to be picked Monday. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson argued during the Oct. 19 hearing that Robinson, 31, of Lewiston should be blocked from presenting evidence at trial and making statements suggesting that Robinson’s sister, Brandi, had killed Fesmire in support of an “alternate suspect” theory.
Benson later withdrew his motion, writing that he had done so for “tactical reasons,” but said he still believed many of the facts that Buddy Robinson would rely on to pursue that theory would be “inadmissible” at trial.
He wrote that he believed each of those so-called facts would have to be argued, out of earshot of the jury, one at a time before the judge during breaks at trial.
The defense is expected to cast doubt on Robinson’s guilt, in part, by seeking to implicate Brandi Robinson during the trial.
Benson had sought to limit Robinson’s alternative-suspect theory, before withdrawing his motion.
Edward “Ted” Dilworth, Robinson’s attorney, had argued that prosecutors lack direct evidence in making their case against his client.
In his memo to the court, Dilworth wrote “the state’s case is comprised of alleged confessions and circumstantial evidence … There are no eyewitnesses linking defendant Robinson to the crime.”
In a written offer of proof, Dilworth said he would present evidence at trial that is “of sufficient probative value to raise a reasonable doubt as to [Robinson's] culpability and establishes a reasonable connection between any alternative suspects and the crime with which he has been charged.”
In his 12-page offer of proof, Dilworth summarized 139 facts in evidence that he said support his request to present an alternative-suspect theory.
Those facts include:
— “After Brandi [Robinson] was told she was a suspect, she told police that Buddy had killed [Fesmire].
— “Brandi owed Christiana Fesmire anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.
— “Brandi and Christiana got into an argument at a restaurant on or about June 28, 2011. Christiana told Brandi that she had disclosed Brandi’s identity to a client/john.
— “Christiana told Brandi she was no longer going to work for Brandi as a prostitute.
— “In late May at the Hotel Indigo in Massachusetts, Levi observed Christiana and Brandi get involved in a serious physical altercation.”
Benson had argued that Dilworth lacked the foundation supporting Brandi Robinson as an alternative suspect.
He said the defense would have to show evidence, such as a confession, physical evidence or a scheme or plan to support an alternative-suspect theory.
In his memo, Dilworth said the state’s law court decisions focus on whether the defense is able to offer proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, knowledge, suspicious post-crime behavior and more.
Rebecca Cornell de Houx, a woman who had served with Buddy Robinson in the Maine Army National Guard, testified at a bail hearing last year that he had sent her text messages on the day Fesmire went missing to say he had badly hurt a woman and that she was dead.
Cornell de Houx said Robinson sent him a spate of text messages the night of July 1 when he was staying at a hotel in Augusta. He told her things weren’t going well. He said he had hurt somebody badly, but he didn’t have to worry about her anymore. Asked why not, he said he would never see her again. When Cornell de Houx pressed him, Robinson said, “She’s dead.” When she asked him whether he was serious, Robinson took a moment to reply, then said he was joking.
Police believe Robinson, who lived upstairs from Fesmire, 22, on Highland Avenue in Lewiston, beat and drowned her in her downstairs apartment on the morning of July 1, 2011. They think he wrapped her dead body in a blanket, put it in the trunk of a Lexus and drove it to a wooded area and dumped it. Fesmire’s remains have not been recovered.
Robinson was indicted in November 2011.