Judge orders prosecutors to turn over police reports in Auburn murder case

AUBURN — A judge on Tuesday ordered prosecutors to turn over all police reports by mid-October in the case of an Auburn man charged with murdering a Lewiston man June 3 outside an apartment building.

Bryan Peabody Androscoggin County Jail photo Defense lawyer James P. Howaniec of Lewiston said he has only received about two dozen pages of written discovery, plus an autopsy report, from prosecutors since the arrest of Bryan Peabody, 20, of 115 Hampshire St. a day after the fatal stabbing of Lawrence Kilkenny, 48.

By contrast, Howaniec said he had received about 500 pages of discovery in a 2019 Auburn murder case within three months of that defendant’s arrest. Howaniec said evidence produced so far in the Peabody case has raised possible questions of provocation, a hate crime and self-defense. Moreover, he said there appeared to be “pretty significant contradictions in the testimony of the four people who were witnessing this incident.”

Howaniec told the judge he and co-counsel Jesse James Ian Archer have concerns about Peabody’s “pretty severe psychiatric issues that extend back to his childhood.” By the delay in discovery, Howaniec said, “we’ve been stymied in our efforts to explore possible criminal responsibility defenses.” The defense has hired a forensic psychologist to help with those efforts, but cannot begin until all of the police reports have been shared with the defense, Howaniec said.

“We feel we’ve been somewhat prejudiced with our defense in that regard,” Howaniec told the judge. He said the lack of discovery — the disclosure of pertinent facts or documents by one or both parties involved in a legal action — is “frustrating our investigation of this case.” Howaniec said he expected to have all police reports and results of forensic examination of physical evidence by the end of August in order to begin preparing a defense.

Instead, the defense has only three pages of police reports so far, despite investigation by officers from at least two law enforcement agencies. “That’s very unusual to us,” he said. “Where are all the narrative reports?” Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis agreed that more written police reports in a murder case are normally filed by officers.

But Ellis said reports by the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit in this case are undergoing an internal review process before they will be turned over to prosecutors. This case is competing for their time with other Maine homicide cases, he said. Otherwise, any evidence in the case provided to prosecutors has been shared “promptly” with defense lawyers, Ellis said.

As of Peabody’s arraignment Aug.

17, Ellis said he had not heard that the defense was unhappy with the timeliness of discovery. Ellis said he had given the State Police until Oct.

16 to provide all written reports in the case to his office. Justice Valerie Stanfill ordered prosecutors to turn over those reports to the defense at that time.

The judge rejected the defendant’s request for a transcript of State Police Detective Jennifer King’s presentation to an Androscoggin County grand jury that led to his indictment. Ellis said King told the grand jury roughly the same information she wrote in an arrest affidavit that was shared with defense attorneys shortly after Peabody’s arrest. Stanfill said most of what King conveyed to the grand jury was “hearsay” evidence from witnesses interviewed by police and, therefore, King would not be allowed to give that testimony at trial.

Stanfill also noted Peabody’s declaration of his right to a speedy trial. He may raise that issue if he believes that right was violated once his case has gone to trial. Howaniec said he was “not under any illusions” about federal and state court trial delays caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which prompted both courts earlier in the year to issue emergency judicial orders suspending trials for a prolonged period.

Peabody, who appeared in Androscoggin County Superior Court by videoconference from Androscoggin County Jail, is being held without bail.

Ellis has said investigators believe Peabody and Kilkenny had argued and that Peabody had “snapped” and assaulted Kilkenny, who suffered about 20 slashing or puncture wounds, including two in the back that punctured a lung, resulting in a fatal loss of blood.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:Related StoriesJudge orders prosecutors to turn over police reports in Auburn murder caseLatest Articles

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *