PORTLAND – Investigators quickly discounted the report of a home invasion after arriving at Linda Dolloff’s house and finding her shot in the hip and her husband badly beaten, a sheriff’s deputy testified Thursday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Detective Sgt. James Estabrook, who leads a criminal investigation unit in the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, was one of the first officers to arrive at the home in Standish on April 12, 2009. He testified that he saw no evidence to support Dolloff’s report of a home invasion, but didn’t say how he reached that conclusion so quickly.

When Dolloff’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, suggested the determination was made within 10 to 15 minutes after officers reached the house, Estabrook said only that it might have taken “a little longer.”

Dolloff is on trial on charges of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report. Prosecutors say she was upset over the impending collapse of her marriage and severely beat Jeffrey Dolloff with a baseball bat, then shot herself to stage a phony home invasion.

One of Lilley’s arguments is that investigators rushed to their conclusion about what happened and have selectively chosen evidence to fit their theory.

Estabrook conceded that a tracking dog was sent only around the perimeter of the house, and that deputies weren’t told to look in the nearby woods, where someone could have hidden, even though two doors on the side of the house near the woods were found open.

He also said that he had deputies at both ends of Dolloff Road, which curves around and connects to Oak Hill Road at two points, to catch anyone who might be driving away from the area.

But Lilley found a report indicating that one of the deputies didn’t arrive until more than half an hour after police first responded — shortly after 3 a.m. — and that she was stationed at the end of the Dolloffs’ driveway to record the names of police coming and going.

Lilley also questioned Estabrook’s report that he saw someone in a window on the home’s first floor when he and another deputy arrived.

Lilley contends that Linda Dolloff was on the second floor, talking to a 911 dispatcher, until the dispatcher asked her to turn on lights and open the door for deputies.

Lilley noted that since initially reporting seeing someone in the window, Estabrook has backtracked, saying he believed that he might have seen someone, then describing what he saw as a flash, a movement, and finally — before a grand jury last summer — agreeing with a characterization of what he saw as a “shadow.”

Prosecutors said Thursday that they expect to call Jeffrey Dolloff to the stand during the trial, even though they said he has no memory of the attack.

He was so badly beaten that sheriff’s deputies thought he would not survive, Estabrook said Thursday, and they called in the Maine State Police because they assumed it would become a murder case.

Dolloff’s daughter, Brandy Dolloff, testified Wednesday that he was unconscious in the hospital for about four weeks, has lost his senses of taste and smell and remains weak from the beating.

Jurors will go to the Dolloff house this morning to get a better sense of an area that they have seen only in photographs. Testimony is expected to continue this afternoon, with Estabrook still on the stand.

Linda Dolloff could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison if she is convicted of attempted murder. Her trial is expected to last at least through next week. 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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