ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR NEW
Cole Chief Justice, Superior Court
moves the Court to grant a new trial pursuant to 15 M.R.S.
2138(10)(C) based on DNA evidence found after trial.
facts of this case are set forth more fully in State v.
Bates, 2003 ME 67, 822 A.2d 1129. In summary, the body
of Tammy Dickson was found in her apartment in the Courtland
Courts apartment complex in South Portland on February 20,
1994. Her hands and feet were bound behind her, a green sock
was stuffed in her mouth, and she was naked from the waist
down. The medical examiner concluded that the cause of death
was strangulation and that she had been dead for several
days. Ms. Dickson's 18-month-old son was found alive in
police interviewed numerous people, including William Quinn
and Defendant. Mr. Quinn was Ms. Dickson's
on-again/off-again boyfriend. He had a key to Ms.
Dickson's apartment and was the one who found her body
after her neighbor asked him to check on her. Defendant and
his then-wife were neighbors of Ms. Dickson. Defendant
initially denied having any relationship with Ms. Dickson,
except that she occasionally babysat for his child. The
police obtained blood samples from Mr. Quinn and Defendant.
years later, the DNA results became available. The results
showed that Mr. Quinn's semen was found on a robe near
Ms. Dickson's body. After further police questioning, Mr.
Quinn admitted that he had been drinking heavily on the night
of the murder and may have gone to Ms. Dickson's
apartment and had sex with her. He also disclosed that there
had been a green sock in Ms. Dickson's mouth, which was
information that had not been released to the public.
vaginal swabs taken from Ms. Dickson were initially
inconclusive. However, several years later, additional tests
were performed with newer technology. The results of those
tests matched the sperm cells on the vaginal swab to
Defendant. On August 10, 2001, a grand jury returned an
indictment charging Defendant with intentional or knowing
murder in violation of 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A) and gross
sexual assault in violation of 17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A).
trial, Defendant testified that he had been having an affair
with Ms. Dickson and had had sex with her the day before the
murder, but he denied raping and murdering her.
Defendant's former wife testified that Defendant left
their apartment at approximately 10pm on the night of the
murder and did not return until 3am the next morning.
Defendant's co-worker testified that Defendant said he
had been to Ms. Dickson's apartment on the night of the
murder. In addition, one of her neighbors testified that,
approximately one month before the murder, Ms. Dickson awoke
in the middle of the night to discover Defendant sitting next
to her and stroking her hair.
22, 2002, Defendant was convicted of both counts. He was
sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and a
concurrent thirty-year sentence for the sexual assault. On
May 8, 2003, the Law Court affirmed the judgments of
conviction and Defendant's sentences. Bates,
2003 ME 67, 822 A.2d 1129. On August 29, 2003, Defendant
filed a petition for post conviction review, which this court
denied on September 5, 2007.
January 10, 2005, Defendant filed a motion for preservation
of DNA evidence, which the court granted on January 18, 2005.
On September 4, 2007, Defendant filed a motion to release
trial evidence for DNA testing pursuant to 15 M.R.S.
§2137. The court granted Defendant's motion on April
29, 2008. The court ordered that a second vaginal smear
slide, two hairs from Ms. Dickson's buttocks, one hair
from her thigh, and three hairs from-the back of her shirt
undergo nuclear DNA testing. The court also ordered that nine
items of previously tested evidence-two hairs from Ms.
Dickson's buttocks, one hair from a belt found near her
body, the bindings on her hands and feet, the sock found in
her mouth, two hairs from pubic combings, and rectal and oral
swabs-undergo mitochondrial DNA testing.
March 2, 2010, the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic
Sciences issued a report on the results of the tests
performed on the hairs from her thigh, buttocks, shirt, and
pubic combings. The report showed that, except for one hair
from her shirt, which was inconclusive, the hairs exhibited
"the same physical and microscopic characteristics as
the control head hair sample from the victim, " and
therefore "could have originated" from Ms. Dickson.
The report does not mention anyone other than Ms. Dickson as
a potential source of these hairs.
April 8, 2010, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory
prepared a report on the result of the tests performed on the
hairs from her buttocks and thigh, the hair from the belt,
the anal and oral swabs, and the second vaginal smear. The
report showed that one of the hairs from her thigh and the
hairs from her shirt were not tested due to an insufficient
amount of DNA. The bindings on her hands and feet and the
green sock were not tested for reasons that are not specified
in the report. In addition, the results from the second
vaginal smear, the anal swab, and the oral swab were
inconclusive. However, the hair from her buttocks, one of the
hairs from her thigh, and the hair from the belt matched Ms.
Dickson. The report does not mention anyone other than Ms.
Dickson as a potential source of this evidence.
hearing on the results was scheduled for December 15, 2014.
On December 12, 2014, Defendant filed a motion to continue
the hearing. The motion, which was filed under seal, asserts
that Defendant's counsel, Neil Raphael, "recently
discovered new information regarding a potential alternate
suspect, requiring further investigation, and further
analysis of the DNA sample at issue, in order to fully
present his Motion for New Trial to this Court."
Raphael's affidavit in support of the motion states that,
in October 2014, he learned that a woman named Melody Higgins
had been trying to reach him. He called Ms. Higgins, who told
him that, on the morning after Ms. Dickson's murder, Ms.
Higgins received a phone call from her sister, Cindy Bridges.
Ms. Bridges told Ms. Higgins that her then-boyfriend, Michael
Bridges, had just come home drunk and screamed at her that
"he killed a girl" and "there was a baby in
the playpen." He also allegedly mentioned something
about a sock in Ms. Dickson's throat. Attorney Raphael
determined that Mr. Bridges was an uncle of one of Ms.
Dickson's neighbors. Attorney Raphael further states that
there was unknown DNA on the sock, and ...