OAKFIELD, Maine — A Houlton man accused of gunning down a couple in their home here two years ago told a Maine state trooper that he was “better now” when she stopped him on the road and asked how he was doing shortly after the bodies were found.
Matthew Davis, 34, also allegedly told Trooper Jillian Monahan that he was coming back from “hell” when she questioned him about his whereabouts in the hours after the killings of Michael Kitchen, 51, and Heidi Pratt, 49, both of Oakfield on Sept. 23, 2013.
Attorneys for the accused killer argued Thursday in Aroostook County Superior Court to have those statements and others made to police by Davis suppressed as evidence before he goes to trial on two counts of murder.
Justice E. Allen Hunter has set jury selection for the trial for Jan. 25, 2016.
The accused killer looked significantly different than the thin man with the shaven head who appeared at his arraignment in the days after the murders. Davis has gained approximately 40 to 50 pounds and has a full head of brown hair.
A small contingent of the Davis family, including his sister and his grandparents, were in court to offer support.
Approximately 13 representatives from the Pratt and Kitchen families also were present in court Thursday for the suppression hearing.
During the roughly 5-hour long suppression hearing, Davis’ attorneys James Dunleavy and Sarah Leclaire of Presque Isle questioned the state troopers and detectives who first encountered Davis on the Beaver Dam Road in Island Falls in the hours after he allegedly killed the couple.
Assistant Attorneys General Leanne Zainea and Deborah Cashman represented the state during the hearing.
Dunleavy and Leclaire argued that police did not follow due process in acquiring statements from their client when he was arrested on Sept. 23, 2013, or the next day when he was incarcerated at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.
Monahan testified Thursday that she was the first to encounter Davis when she spotted him driving a black passenger car on the Beaver Dam Road in Island Falls. She was at a camp on the road because a resident reported he found a kayak on his property that did not belong to him.
Monahan said she immediately recognized Davis, who she said was wet, cold, had a towel around his neck and “seemed to be searching for answers.”
Monahan said she spent approximately 45 minutes to an hour with him as he sat handcuffed in her police cruiser. An onboard camera recorded audio and video of their conversation, which was presented as evidence for review Thursday.
The trooper testified that she did not smell the odor of intoxicants and that Davis seemed to understand where he was.
Upon questioning from Dunleavy, she said that her long gun firearm was locked away in the trunk of her cruiser at the time. She said she did not make Davis any promises about his future or threaten him in any way.
Dunleavy and Leclaire argued that there was no indication that Davis was provided with Miranda warnings either before or after the interrogation in the cruiser by Monahan, which lasted in excess of one hour, according to court documents.
A transcript of what was discussed between Davis and Monahan was not presented in court, nor was a CD of their conversation played.
State police detectives and prosecutors countered Thursday that several detectives read Davis his Miranda rights that first day and reread them to him the following day.
Detective Todd Stetson said Davis was read his Miranda rights and given food and beverages that he asked for because he said that it had been awhile since he had eaten. Detective Greg Mitchell also testified that he witnessed Stetson reading Davis Miranda rights and getting him food.
Justice Hunter said he would issue a ruling on the defense motion to suppress the statements later this summer.
A motive for the crime has never been made public. Davis has not entered a plea for the crime and has been incarcerated without bail since his arrest.
An autopsy conducted at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta determined Kitchen died from multiple gunshot wounds and Pratt from a gunshot wound to the neck. Police said the wounds were inflicted by a semi-automatic rifle purchased by Davis. Davis never reported the gun stolen, investigators said, and it was found lying across Kitchen’s body in the burned remnants of the home Davis also allegedly set on fire before leaving.
According to an affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Elmer Farren, firefighters called to the Pratt-Kitchen home the day of the double homicide also 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. Farren said in the affidavit that police determined the truck belonged to the mechanic’s garage that Mike Kitchen owned with his family. Another firearm found inside the vehicle belonged to Davis.
Police believe the spree of mayhem started earlier that morning at Katahdin Forest Products in Oakfield, where a flatbed wrecker truck registered to Davis had been backed into the building, and the truck and office had caught fire. Police said video surveillance from that site shows the same white company truck that was found burning at the Kitchen home leaving the scene.
Davis was indicted by the Aroostook County grand jury in November 2013 on two counts of murder, four counts of arson, three counts each of theft and aggravated criminal mischief.