PORTLAND – A Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy testified Monday that his tracking dog sniffed for about 20 minutes outside a Standish house where a home invasion had been reported, but failed to find any scent suggesting an assailant had run from the home.

Alfred Winslow, the deputy who worked with the dog, named Jag, said the German shepherd picked up relatively fresh scents among the cars parked in Linda and Jeffrey Dolloff’s driveway and next to the garage, along with an older track leading to the house next door owned by Dolloff’s brother. But the dog detected nothing outside any doors or windows in Linda and Jeffrey Dolloff’s home.

Prosecutors are trying to show that Linda Dolloff severely beat her husband with a bat, then shot herself in the hip and reported a home invasion to cover up the assault on April 12 of last year. They say she was upset over an impending divorce. She’s charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report, and could be sentenced to as long as 30 years in prison if she is convicted of attempted murder.

Linda Dolloff’s defense lawyers suggest police too readily dismissed her report. Investigators focused instead on an attempted murder-suicide scenario and launched only a cursory investigation into aspects of the case that didn’t fit their theory, the defense team contends.

Although Winslow said the tracking dog didn’t pick up scents leading from the house, defense attorney Karen Wolfram noted that Winslow’s report didn’t indicate whether he and Jag checked around several outbuildings on the Dolloff property. Winslow testified that he checked some, but not all, of those buildings, but did not check the edge of the woods around the Dolloff house.

Winslow said he didn’t take the dog around the front of the house or inside, because the area was too “contaminated” by scents being left by police and medical technicians.

Winslow also said he didn’t take the bat used to beat Jeffrey Dolloff outside the house so the dog could check for any similar scents, which might have indicated whether Jeffrey Dolloff’s assailant had gone through any of several doors that had been found open at the home. Winslow added that he couldn’t be sure the bat hadn’t been touched by anyone other than the assailant.

Defense attorney Daniel Lilley earlier in the day finished questioning Detective Sgt. James Estabrook, who arrived at the home about the same time as Winslow and who was initially in charge of the investigation. Winslow and Estabrook were the first deputies to reach the house and Estabrook had radioed in a report that he saw someone through a window in the front door as the pair approached.

Lilley has argued that seeing someone on the first floor at the time he contends Linda Dolloff was upstairs on the phone with a 911 operator buttresses her claim of a home invasion.

Estabrook, however, has backed away from saying he saw a person, instead describing what he saw as a flash, a movement or a shadow. On Monday, he said police are trained to assume that any sightings of movement are made by a person in a situation where there might be a home invasion or a hostage-taking.

Estabrook also elaborated on why he believed fairly quickly that the report of a home invasion was false. He said those factors included the seriousness of the beating of Jeffrey Dolloff, the dog’s failure to find a track leading from the house and the fact that Jeffrey Dolloff was beaten and Linda Dolloff was shot.

Defense lawyers are expected to finish questioning Winslow this morning. Prosecutors then expect to call police crime scene analysts and an emergency medical technician to the stand.

Jeffrey Dolloff is likely to testify at some point this week, although he has told prosecutors he was asleep when attacked, was quickly knocked unconscious and has no memory of the assault.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]