Attorneys appointed for Houlton man accused of killing Oakfield couple

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 09, 2013, at 4:21 p.m.

OAKFIELD, Maine — Two Presque Isle attorneys who were called on to defend an Ellsworth man ultimately convicted of killing three people in Amity in 2010 are now representing a man accused of a double murder.

Court officials said Wednesday that James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire have been appointed by the court to defend Matthew Davis of Houlton. The 32-year-old is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Michael Kitchen, 51, and Heidi Pratt, 49, on Sept. 23 at their Oakfield home.

According to an affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Elmer Farren, both victims were found in the bedroom of the home, which Davis allegedly set on fire.

Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes said that the case has been assigned to Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who was not in her office Wednesday. Stokes said it is the policy of the office not to comment on open cases.

Davis did not enter a plea when he made his initial court appearance on Sept. 25. He was ordered held without bail until a Harnish hearing can be held, in which a bail amount may be set or bail may be denied. That hearing will not take place if a grand jury indicts him first.

An autopsy conducted at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta showed that Kitchen died from multiple gunshot wounds, which Farren said were inflicted by a semiautomatic rifle purchased by Davis. The detective said that Davis never reported the gun stolen, and it was found lying across Kitchen’s body in the burned remnants of the home. Pratt died from a gunshot wound to the neck, the medical examiner determined.

According to the affidavit, neighbors of the victims heard five or six gunshots at 4:30 a.m. Sept. 23. The two neighbors went to see what was happening and saw a truck leaving the scene with one male driver. The Oakfield Fire Department was then called to the house to extinguish a fire and discovered a white pickup truck belonging to Katahdin Forest Products aflame against the residence. One hour later, the Island Falls Fire Department was called to extinguish a fire on Richardson Road in Island Falls, where another pickup truck was found burning with a firearm inside.

Seven minutes later, at Katahdin Forest Products in Oakfield, an individual reported that a flatbed wrecker truck registered to Davis had been backed into the building, and that the truck and office had caught fire. Video surveillance also showed a different truck leaving the scene, which police allege is the same white vehicle later found burning at the Kitchen property.

Davis’ wife, Billie Jo Davis, told police that she last saw her husband between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22. When she woke up at 5:30 a.m. the next day, he was gone, and she noticed that the flatbed truck was missing as well, according to the affidavit.

Police began searching for Davis after his wrecker was found at Katahdin Forest Products. Police tracked him down and arrested him at about 10:45 a.m. Monday in a stolen vehicle on Beaver Dam Point Road in Island Falls, according to the affidavit. State police Sgt. Chad Fuller and his tracking dog conducted a search of the road that later turned up Kitchen’s wallet.

Farren also said in the affidavit that police determined that the burning vehicle found on Richardson Road in Island Falls belonged to the garage that Kitchen owned with his family. Another firearm inside that vehicle belonged to Davis.

State police Lt. John Cote said Wednesday afternoon that detectives continue to investigate the case and no additional charges are pending at this point. Detective Sgt. Darrin Crane is the lead investigator. A motive has yet to be made public.

“They continue to work the case, as there is still a lot of leg work involved as far as interviewing witnesses and family members and things,” he said. “People are still coming forward and we are processing evidence. “So we continue to work on it. Its unfortunate. It is a tragedy for this community and the loved ones of the victims.”

Dunleavy and LeClaire defended Thayne Ormsby, the 23-year-old man sentenced in June 2012 to three life terms in prison for killing three people in a rural home in Amity in June 2010. On Sept. 9, they appeared before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and argued that his conviction should be overturned based on several factors. A decision on the matter has not yet been handed down.

Dunleavy did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

A funeral for Kitchen and Pratt was held in Oakfield on Sept. 28. A balloon launch in their memory is scheduled to take place at noon Saturday, Oct. 12, in Houlton Community Park.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/09/news/aroostook/attorneys-appointed-for-houlton-man-accused-of-killing-oakfield-couple/ printed on July 22, 2014