The ruling was issued Thursday and rejected appeals filed on behalf of Arnold A. Diana.
The 38-year-old Diana was convicted by a Knox County jury in July 2012 for the murder of 47-year-old Katrina Windred of Friendship. Testimony and evidence indicated that Diana strangled the single mother in his residence at the Thorndike apartments on Main Street on Nov. 20, 2010.
Diana’s attorney for the appeal, Jeremy Pratt, argued that the trial judge erred by allowing evidence from three searches to be admitted at the trial, allowing a juror who had once been a victim of domestic violence to serve on the jury, and refusing to throw out certain evidence and testimony from experts about the significance of that evidence.
The appeal also claimed that Justice Jeffrey Hjelm erred in setting the sentence.
The high court rejected those claims.
The judicial court ruled that the three searches of Diana’s apartment were valid. The court pointed out that Diana was on probation with a condition that he agree to searches of his residence at the reasonable request of law enforcement. The court found that the first search was undertaken correctly by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office because investigators were trying to locate Windred, who had gone to drop off groceries to Diana prior to Thanksgiving.
Police found a bloody pillow at the scene.
Windred’s body was located three days after her death off Thompson Meadow Road in Rockland.
Diana eventually confessed to state police that he had killed Windred but those statements were ruled inadmissible by Hjelm — and not provided to jurors — because detectives continued to question Diana after the suspect had said he did not want to talk anymore.
The judicial court also found that the 45-year sentence was appropriate. The court concluded that Hjelm was correct in considering the proximity of the victim’s son to the crime scene when he imposed the sentence. The justices pointed out that when Diana killed Windred, he knew her young son was downstairs waiting for her in a car.
“It was only through good fortune, not Diana’s actions, that the boy did not enter the apartment and witness his mother’s murder and suffer whatever response his appearance might have provoked on the part of Diana,” the justices stated in their ruling.
Diana then involved Windred’s son in the crime scene for hours after her murder, including having him sleep in the same room near her corpse. It is probable that the boy’s knowledge of what occurred, even after the fact, will in the future have the same severe negative collateral impact, according to the judicial court.