BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the conviction of a Standish woman serving 16 years for attempting to kill her sleeping husband with a softball bat.
Linda Dolloff, 51, challenged the way Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson conducted herself during the two-week trial in May 2010.
Dolloff was convicted of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false police report in connection with an April 12, 2009, incident in which authorities believe she attacked her estranged husband with a bat and shot herself in the hip to make it look like a home invasion.
Her now ex-husband, Jeffrey Dolloff, suffered serious injuries, including multiple skull fractures and a fractured nose, while having several teeth knocked out, according to court documents. He has no memory of the assault and is not expected to fully recover from his injuries.
The couple were going through a divorce at the time, according to the 42-page decision written by Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley.
Verne E. Paradie Jr. of Auburn handled Dolloff’s appeal but did not represent her at the trial. Arguments before the high court, held in April in Portland, centered on Anderson’s conduct during the trial, according to a previously published report. Paradie argued that the prosecutor acted improperly by making a statement about the weight of the softball bat, commenting about a whimpering dog heard on a 911 call, making statements during her closing argument prefaced with the words “I think,” making comments concerning the credibility of Linda Dolloff and her attorney, and urging the jury to “do justice.”
The justice rejected them all.
“A properly instructed jury convicted Linda Dolloff after a lengthy trial,” Saufley wrote. “The evidence in this case was sufficient to support a guilty finding. Our ultimate task in reviewing for both harmless error and obvious error is to determine whether Linda received a fair trial. Having reviewed all of Linda’s many challenges, we are not persuaded that any prosecutorial misconduct, even considered cumulatively, affected the jury’s verdict. Thus, we conclude that Linda received a fair trial.”
The Cumberland County district attorney’s office declined Wednesday to comment on the decision because Anderson was on vacation.
Paradie on Wednesday called the decision “very disappointing in many respects.”
“The court acknowledged several significant violations of proper prosecutorial conduct, yet found that the prosecutor’s actions did not prejudice Ms. Dolloff,” the attorney said. “Our law says that we presume that juries listen to judges’ instructions on what to consider and what not to consider, but it is clear that Dolloff’s jury could not have ignored the seriously prejudicial actions of the prosecutor despite the court instructing them to do so.
“It should not matter what other evidence exists in the case. If a prosecutor violates clearly established law, which the law recognizes prejudices defendants, the defendant should be entitled to a new trial free from prosecutorial misconduct.”
BDN writer Seth Koenig and The Associated Press contributed to this report.