BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court justice said that he would decide by the end of the the day Wednesday if documents in the Nichole Cable murder case would be unsealed immediately or kept secret until the man accused of killing the 15-year-old goes on trial.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson made the announcement after a 30-minute hearing at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Kyle Dube, 20, of Orono, who has been charged with intentional or knowing murder in connection with the girl’s death, could be indicted Wednesday afternoon by the Penobscot County grand jury.
His attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor, has asked that information about the investigation that led police to charge Dube not be available to the public until Dube goes on trial.
Dube’s trial date has not been set but most likely could not be held for more than a year. There are 10 other defendants awaiting trial on murder or manslaughter charges in Penobscot County.
Smith on Friday filed a written motion to seal the affidavit along with information contained in search warrants that allowed police to gather evidence at Dube’s parents’ home and other places, and any documents that might contain “private information” in the death of Cable, who lived in Alton and Glenburn.
Anderson, on May 22, — the day Dube made his first court appearance — granted Smith’s oral motion to seal the affidavit, but only until Dube is indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury. That could happen as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Smith argued in his written motion that the “defense remains concerned about pretrial publicity and the prejudice to the defendant concerning materials which might be filed in open court without the opportunity to review said materials for aspects prejudicial to the defendant.”
The attorney also said that Dube had received “numerous threatening communications” on his Facebook page, which has been taken down, that “cause the defendant concern not only for himself but his family and acquaintances — some of whom are potential witnesses in this case.”
Smith said on Wednesday reiterated a concern expressed last week his concerned for Dube’s safety because the defendant’s life had been threatened over the Internet. Smith said Friday that he filed his written motion seeking to seal documents that usually would be public in response to a written motion filed Thursday by a southern Maine newspaper and the Associated Press.
That motion asks the affidavit be unsealed before the grand jury meets Wednesday. Anderson will consider it at Wednesday morning’s hearing.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, has not taken a position on the motions.
Judges in Maine have a great deal of discretion in deciding what court documents to seal and when to seal them in high-profile cases, according to Smith.
Anderson, who has been a Superior Court justice sitting primarily in Bangor for more than five years, usually grants motions to seal an affidavit in a murder case but imposes a time limit. Often that is for 60 days or, as he did in Dube’s case, until the grand jury indicts a defendant.
Earlier this month, Anderson denied a request by defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor to seal the affidavit in the Akeem T. Harris case because the 23-year-old Amityville, N.Y., man was not arrested until after he had been indicted and pleaded not guilty to murder. Harris is charged in connection with the stabbing death April 9 in Bangor of Thomas N. Taylor, 30, of Bangor.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Anderson could deny both motions and let his original order stand so the affidavit would become public after Dube is indicted by the grand jury.
The judge also could take the matter under advisement and issue a written order in a few weeks. The affidavit and other documents most likely would remain sealed until Anderson issued a written decision.
No matter what the judge decides, the losing side could appeal the Anderson’s ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.