State prosecutors have asked a Portland judge to delay the upcoming evidentiary hearing in the case of Anthony H. Sanborn Jr., who was released on bail in April after new evidence called into question his 1992 murder conviction.

The state Attorney General’s Office, whose prosecutors are fighting to preserve the conviction, has also filed documents disclosing its list of potential witnesses, including a former cell mate of Sanborn at Cumberland County Jail, a former Portland police chief who may testify about informal practices of handling closed case files, and John Rudolf, an independent investigative journalist who has provided research material to Sanborn’s defense team.

Sanborn was convicted of the 1989 murder of Jessica L. Briggs, who was 16 when she was stabbed to death and her body dumped in Portland Harbor.

Sanborn’s attorney, Amy Fairfield, has opposed any delay of the hearings, which are slated to take place over seven days in Portland Unified Criminal Court beginning July 24.

The state requested the delay because of disagreements and delays during the discovery process, in which both sides are expected to exchange documents and information about their cases.

Fairfield on Wednesday also filed her witness list of more than 50 people, including Sanborn, who would be expected to testify to his innocence. Also included on Fairfield’s list is his wife, Michelle Sanborn, who was alleged by an eye witness to have been present at the murder but was never called to testify in the original hearing.

The potential testimony by Burton, the former police chief for three years in Portland until 2008, could answer questions surrounding why James Daniels, the lead investigator in the Briggs case, kept two boxes of case notes, reports and other materials at his home. They were turned over to attorneys about two weeks after Sanborn was bailed April 13.

The current chief of police, Michael Sauschuck, has previously declined a request by the Portland Press Herald to discuss records-retention policies in relation to the Sanborn case after Daniels returned the files to the police station in May.

Sanborn, who was also 16 at the time of the murder and dated Briggs briefly before her death, has maintained his innocence since his arrest in 1990.

According to prosecutors, Sanborn killed Briggs in a rage when she refused to accompany him to Virginia Beach, or to give Sanborn the tip money she had earned earlier that night at DiMillo’s floating restaurant.

In court documents filed last week, Fairfield has also leveled new accusations that the state purposely destroyed or allowed to be lost key investigative files pertaining to Hope Cady, the only person to claim to have witnessed the crime.

Cady was 16 when she took the witness stand in 1992 and told jurors she saw Sanborn stab Briggs on the Maine State Pier from a distance late at night.

But at a bail hearing in April, Cady recanted that testimony and said detectives threatened that if she did not testify as she had been instructed, she would be locked up.

Cady said under oath this year that she wasn’t even on the pier that night during the murder.

In the recent filings, Fairfield also wrote that Cady contacted Fairfield’s office to ask that she set up a meeting between Cady and Sanborn so that Cady could personally apologize for her false testimony and for not coming forward sooner.

Matt Burne can be contacted at:

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