PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Could information found in boxes inside a retired detective’s home have helped clear Anthony Sanborn of a murder charge?
That was the focus of the defense’s questioning of the lead detective in the Jessica Briggs murder investigation. Notes and reports taken home by James Daniels when he retired have been a main topic of the hearing that Sanborn hopes will clear his name.
For nearly two decades those boxes sat inside Daniels home. The defense claims notes and information in those boxes, that never made it into official reports, could have cleared Sanborn.
“Do think that at this point in time that the state could have proven this case beyond a reasonable doubt had Tony had all of this information?”, Daniels was asked by Sanborn attorney Amy Fairfield.
The state objected, saying that's up to the judge to decide in this hearing. Justice Joyce Wheeler upheld the objection and Daniels was not required to answer.
In her re-direct of Daniels, Fairfield questioned him about his personal notes taken during the Briggs investigation. Notes she says contained information about other possible suspects. Notes that never made into official reports and never were handed over to Sanborn’s defense team prior to his trial. Fairfield asked Daniels if he was troubled by that.
“If you look at it 30-years later it looks like it may not have been as thorough as it could have been, I’m not sure. But I’m not troubled that exculpatory evidence was intentionally kept from the defense team, no”, said Daniels.
Daniels testified he did not remove any materials from the boxes before returning them to the Portland Police Department prior to this hearing. Fairfield then grilled him about what happened to his notes taken with Hope Cady. She was the state’s key witness who said she saw Sanborn kill Briggs, but later recanted her testimony.
“I don’t know where all the notes are", Daniels testified.
"You don’t know where all the notes are?", asked Fairfield.
"They weren’t in the boxes, so I don’t know”, Daniels responded.
Earlier in the day the state continued trying to refute the defense’s claim that investigators ignored other possible suspects because they targeted Sanborn for the murder and worked to manufacture a case against him. Daniels testified at the time of the murder Briggs was staying with her friend Gloria Staples. Staples told Daniels that Sanborn told her he was with Briggs the night of the murder and they had gotten into a fight on a wharf near the waterfront.
“Tony said him and Jess got in an argument when they were down there that night. Tony said Jess hit him and he hit her back. The words he used, he hit her a good one, and that’s in quotes, is that correct?" asked Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha.
"That’s correct", Daniels responded.
"And that’s the term she used?" asked Rucha.
"Hit her a good one, yes”, said Daniels.
The defense claims Staples later tried to recant that statement, but that information was never turned over to Sanborn’s attorneys.