A judge has agreed to postpone until October an evidentiary hearing for Anthony Sanborn, who was released on bail this spring after spending 25 years in prison on a murder conviction that is now under review.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office had asked for a delay this month but Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler denied that request.

However, prosecutors and Sanborn’s attorney, Amy Fairfield, met again Thursday, at which point Wheeler changed her mind.

“The court continued the matter given the number of outstanding issues that needed to be decided before the hearing could proceed,” said Timothy Feeley, a spokesman for the AG’s office.

Fairfield did not return calls Friday seeking comment about the delay.

Sanborn, 45, was convicted in 1992 of killing 16-year-old Jessica Briggs on the Portland waterfront three years earlier. He was sentenced to 70 years and had been behind bars until April. That’s when Wheeler agreed to grant bail pending a review of the original conviction, prompted in part by the recanted testimony of one of the state’s key witnesses, Hope Cady.

Cady testified at the 1992 trial that she saw Sanborn kill Briggs but now says she wasn’t even on the waterfront that night. She also told the judge this spring that the state pressured her to testify.

According to Wheeler’s order this week, some of the outstanding issues include further testing on blood and hair from the victim’s body by the Maine State Police crime lab. She said the items should not be tested until their origins can be conclusively determined.

Although Sanborn’s conviction still stands for now, he could be retried or even exonerated. No one convicted of murder in Maine has ever been exonerated. Sanborn also could return to prison or be released for time served, at the judge’s discretion.

Fairfield has alleged for months that the criminal case was fraught with problems. Most recently, she has shifted focus to a pair of expert witnesses who believe Briggs’ murder was the work of a serial killer. The attorney has said that local police sought help from FBI criminal profilers after the murder – a fact not previously disclosed to his attorneys and something Fairfield learned about from files pulled from the attic of retired Portland police Detective James Daniels, the lead investigator in the case, who turned over two boxes of case information this spring after Sanborn was granted bail.

The state has objected to allowing those experts to testify and it’s not clear yet whether they will be called in October.

Fairfield also has alleged misconduct on the part of two Portland police detectives assigned to the case – Daniels and Daniel Young – as well as Assistant Attorney General Pamela Ames, who prosecuted the case. Ames, now in private practice in Waterville, has denied those allegations and remains convinced that Sanborn was Briggs’ killer.

Wheeler did schedule a hearing for Aug. 4 to rule on the state’s motion to dismiss some of Sanborn’s claims.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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