PORTLAND – Linda Dolloff’s attorney pressed his case Friday that police too quickly dismissed her report of a home invasion last April, and instead focused on her shooting and the beating of her husband as part of what they considered an attempted murder-suicide.

During the third day of Dolloff’s trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, Daniel Lilley revealed a report that a sheriff’s deputy was told at 3:20 a.m. on April 12, 2009, to go to Maine Medical Center to retrieve clothes from Dolloff, who was going to be treated for a gunshot wound to the hip.

The deputy reported that he was told — barely 10 minutes after police arrived at the Dolloffs’ house in Standish — that the case was a domestic murder-suicide attempt.

Dolloff is charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report. Prosecutors say she was upset over an impending divorce from Jeffrey Dolloff, beat him severely with a baseball bat, then shot herself and called 911 to report a home invasion.

She could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison if she is convicted of attempted murder.

Jurors visited the Dolloff home Friday morning to get familiar with the scene, and then Lilley spent the afternoon in court cross-examining Detective Sgt. James Estabrook, who was one of the first officers to arrive at the home after the incident.

“You formed an opinion before you saw any evidence within, say, 20 minutes of (Linda Dolloff’s) call to 911,” Lilley said.

Estabrook said he didn’t agree, although he has said he didn’t see any signs of a home invasion as he went through the house.

Lilley also pushed Estabrook on his initial report that he saw someone in a window as he and a deputy approached the house. Estabrook later described what he saw as a flash, a movement, or a shadow.

Lilley said that the sighting of another person in the house would have bolstered Dolloff’s assertion that someone had broken into her home, beat her husband and shot her — and that didn’t fit the police theory.

Lilley noted that in the affidavit Estabrook filed in support of a search warrant early on April 12, he never mentioned seeing someone.

And, Lilley noted, while Estabrook testified that he recounted what he saw in a meeting of detectives on April 16, a Maine State Police detective’s notes of the meeting didn’t include Estabrook saying he had seen someone as he approached the house.

Estabrook said he believed the person he saw was Linda Dolloff. But Lilley replayed 911 tapes to show that Dolloff, who was upstairs on a cell phone with a 911 dispatcher, would have to have taken less than a minute to get downstairs and appear in the window of the front door at the time Estabrook arrived.

A few minutes later, when a 911 operator told her to turn on lights and open the door for deputies, it took her nearly two minutes to go to the front door. Lilley noted for jurors that she had been shot, and was walking barefoot in a darkened house.

Lawyers for both sides said during Friday’s proceedings that the trial is taking much longer than they anticipated.

Justice Joyce A. Wheeler said at the trial’s start Wednesday that it would take five to eight days. But in the first three days, only opening statements and three witnesses — Jeffrey Dolloff’s daughter by his first marriage, a Cumberland County dispatcher and Estabrook — have testified. Estabrook is expected to return to the stand Monday morning.

Prosecutors plan to question more police officers and Jeffrey Dolloff, who has said he doesn’t remember anything past the afternoon before he was attacked.

 

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

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