BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court justice will allow former Maine Sports Hall of Famer and local disc jockey Dana Wilson to withdraw his no-contest plea to a charge of possession of child pornography.
No-contest pleas result in convictions.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson said in his ruling signed Thursday that he would set a date for Wilson to formally withdraw his plea, and set a trial date in March.
Anderson said that the most critical factor in his decision was that allowing Wilson to withdraw his plea would not affect the prosecution’s ability to present its case because evidence and witnesses would still be available.
“The court also believes that, especially in a serious case such as this, it is preferable for the case to be resolved by trial, rather than by a plea that the defendant wants to withdraw while continually protesting his innocence,” the judge wrote in his two-page ruling.
The judge considered four factors in deciding whether Wilson should be allowed to withdraw his plea. They include the length of time between his entering the plea and seeking to withdraw it, the potential prejudice to the prosecution, the defendant’s assertion of innocence and any deficiency in the proceeding at which Wilson entered his plea.
Anderson heard oral arguments on the plea withdrawal motion Jan. 3 at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said he disagreed with Anderson’s decision.
“Mr. Wilson has delayed this case for over a year,” Roberts, who is prosecuting the case, said Friday in an email. “The state was prepared for trial in December of 2012, March 2013 and May 2013. I am disappointed that the court has decided to allow him to extend this matter further. I feel badly for the civilian witnesses who were in court, prepared to testify, last May and who will now have to prepare for testimony once again.”
Efforts to reach Wilson’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, were unsuccessful Friday.
Tzovarras told the judge Jan. 3 that Wilson wanted to take the action “ because he is innocent of the offense and believes he did not fully understand the state’s burden [of proof], potential issues for defense and consequences of a no-contest plea.”
The defense attorney said at the hearing that there was nothing in the police report to indicate that Wilson sought out the material, and he never confessed to the police.
Wilson pleaded no contest on May 23 before District Court Judge Greg Campbell to one count of possession of sexually explicit material, a Class C crime, as his jury-waived trial was about to begin.
On Aug. 19, the day before he was to be sentenced, Wilson fired his previous attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor. Silverstein said Wilson sent him an email dismissing him but was given no reasons by his client.
Roberts said in August that he would recommend the judge sentence Wilson to between 2½ and three years in prison with all but six to nine months suspended. Roberts also said he would urge the judge to impose two years of probation.
Monitoring of child pornography sites by law enforcement officials outside Maine led to an Internet address belonging to Wilson in February 2011, according to a previously published report. He was indicted by a Penobscot County grand jury in June 2012.
Wilson was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in May 2012 for his basketball feats at Bangor’s Husson College, now Husson University, where he graduated in 1974. That honor was revoked May 29, 2013, by the hall’s board of directors, according to a previously published report.
Wilson remains free on $1,000 unsecured bail with conditions that include having no contact with children under the age of 16.
The DJ, who has no prior criminal record, faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 on the charge if convicted.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.