PORTLAND – Somewhere in Cumberland County on Tuesday, Jag’s pointy ears were burning.

Jag is a German shepherd police dog. And on the fifth day of Linda Dolloff’s trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, attention was focused on his weight, his teeth and whether he’s any good at his job of tracking criminals.

Jag was put to work about 3:30 a.m. on April 12, 2009, shortly after sheriff’s deputies responded to Dolloff’s report of a home invasion at her house in Standish. She said someone had beaten her husband, Jeffrey Dolloff, then shot her in the hip.

Prosecutors contend that Linda Dolloff, distressed over an impending divorce, beat her husband severely with a baseball bat, then shot herself with one of his guns and called 911 with the home invasion report to cover up the assault. She is charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report.

Jag’s handler, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Alfred Winslow, testified that at the Dolloffs’ house early that morning, his dog found only two scent tracks — one that led from cars parked in the driveway to a utility door inside the garage, and one from the driveway to the nearby house of Jeffrey Dolloff’s brother.

Brian Dolloff told police that he visited his brother on the day before the incident, taking the route the police dog detected, Winslow testified. Jag’s behavior indicated that the track was probably at least six hours old when the dog found it.

Linda Dolloff’s lawyers, Daniel Lilley and Karen Wolfram, asked for Winslow’s records on Jag, aiming to raise doubt among jurors about the dog’s tracking ability and suggest that Jag missed the track of the person who Linda Dolloff said invaded her home.

Wolfram focused on reports from Winslow about Jag’s certifications. The dog and the handler must be recertified in tracking and narcotics-detecting ability every six months.

One report, she noted, suggested that Jag had been distracted during the certification. Another said he didn’t appear fit and needed to lose weight. Another time, Winslow acknowledged, Jag had to be taken to a veterinarian to have his teeth cleaned around the time of the certification.

Throughout the questioning, Winslow stood by his dog, saying that even distracted — or overweight or in need of minor dental work — Jag would be able to pick up the scent of anyone who had run from the house, particularly if only a few hours had passed.

Jag’s 20 minutes of work outside the Dolloffs’ house convinced Winslow that there was no track leading from the house to the road or the nearby woods, he said.

District Attorney Stephanie Anderson also came to Jag’s defense, asking a subsequent witness about the dog.

“You know Jag, don’t you?” she asked Deputy John Fournier, one of the deputies who responded to the call from the Dolloffs’ home a year ago.

When Fournier said yes, Anderson asked, “He’s not overweight, is he?”

“No, he’s not,” Fournier responded.

Tuesday’s testimony ended about 90 minutes early. Justice Joyce A. Wheeler said prosecutors and defense lawyers were going to get together to try to find a quicker way of submitting evidence.

Crime scene technicians are expected to testify in the next day or two, and an agreement on what evidence will be accepted by both sides could reduce the need for lengthy testimony on some of the items.

When the trial started a week ago, Wheeler said she expected it to run five to eight days. Lawyers on both sides say the trial has gone much slower than they anticipated.

Prosecutors still have more witnesses to present, including Jeffrey Dolloff, who has been recovering from his injuries but has said he has no memory of the beating that left him unconscious for a month.

 

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