Argued: February 4, 2019
Richard L. Hartley, Esq. (orally), Law Office of Richard L.
Hartley, P.C., Bangor, for appellant Jeffrey A. Cookson
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Donald W. Macomber, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine
Penobscot County Superior Court docket number CR-2000-11 For
Clerk Reference Only
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Jeffrey A. Cookson appeals from a judgment entered by the
Superior Court (Penobscot County, Cole, C.J.)
denying his motion for a new trial, which he brought pursuant
to Maine's post-conviction DNA analysis statute,
see 15 M.R.S. §§2136-2138(2018).
The focal point of this appeal is one of the
"prerequisites" for obtaining a new trial based on
newly discovered DNA evidence: "a showing that
only the perpetrator of the crime could be the
source of the DNA evidence" See State v. Reese,
2013 ME 10, ¶¶ 19, 23, 60 A.3d 1277. Because we
discern no error in the court's denial of Cookson's
motion for a new trial, we affirm the judgment.
In December 2001, Cookson was convicted of two counts of
murder following a jury trial. Immediately after the jury
returned its verdict, Cookson's counsel informed the
court and the State that David Vantol had recently confessed
to committing the murders for which Cookson had just been
found guilty. Cookson has since filed multiple post-judgment
motions; this appeal marks the fourth time that Cookson has
appealed a post-judgment court order. See generally
Cookson v. State, 2014 ME 24, 86 A.3d 1186; Cookson
v. State, 2011 ME 53, 17 A.3d 1208; State v.
Cookson, 2003 ME 136, 837 A.2d 101.
The present appeal concerns Cookson's motion for a new
trial based on mitochondrial DNA testing that was performed
in April 2016 at his request. The test compared the DNA from
a single hair that was recovered from the palm of one of the
victim's hands to the DNA of Cookson and Vantol. The
results of the DNA analysis excluded Cookson as the
source of the hair, and were inconclusive as to
Based on the DNA results, Cookson moved for a new trial
pursuant to 15 M.R.S. § 2138. Following an evidentiary
hearing, the parties entered stipulations into the record and
submitted written arguments. The court then denied
Cookson's motion for a new trial. Cookson timely appeals.
See 15 M.R.S. § 2138(11); M.R. App. P.
"To obtain a new trial based on newly discovered DNA
evidence obtained through a post[-]judgment motion for DNA
analysis, a defendant must establish by clear and convincing
evidence one of three statutorily identified reasons for the
granting of a new trial."Reese,2013 ME 10,
¶ 23, 60 A.3d 1277. Maine's post-conviction DNA
analysis statute ...