November 28, 2012

Maine court upholds Dolloff's bat-attack conviction

In a unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Court rejects Linda Dolloff's claims that the prosecutor misrepresented facts in her 2010 trial.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The state's highest court has upheld the conviction of a Standish woman serving a 16-year sentence for trying to kill her sleeping husband with a softball bat on Easter morning 2009.

click image to enlarge

Linda Dolloff was convicted of attempting to murder her husband at their home in Standish in 2009.

File photo / The Portland Press Herald

In a unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected arguments that Linda Dolloff made in her appeal contending that Cumberland County's top prosecutor committed misconduct and made improper statements during her 2010 trial.

Dolloff, now 51, was convicted of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and filing a false report in the attack. Prosecutors argued during the 14-day trial that she beat her husband, Jeffrey Dolloff, then shot herself in the abdomen to back up her claim that they were victims of a home invasion. The couple was going through a divorce at the time.

The couple was married in 1998 and discussed divorce for 10 years. Jeffrey Dolloff testified that they agreed to the final terms of a divorce while soaking in their hot tub two weeks before the assault.

He suffered injuries to his head and upper body in the attack, which he doesn't remember, and was unconscious for about a month afterward.

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson argued during the trial that Linda Dolloff would rather be a "grieving widow" than a "jilted spouse."

Linda Dolloff argued that Anderson violated common law and professional conduct rules for prosecutors. In her appeal, she said that statements Anderson made during the trial expressed personal opinions, misrepresented facts and wrongly suggested to jurors that they had to convict her to deliver justice.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said in the 42-page decision that the court considered five instances in which Linda Dolloff argued that Anderson had misrepresented facts or expressed her own opinion: a comment about the weight of the bat used to assault Dolloff's husband, a statement about a whimpering dog heard on the 911 tape to police, multiple statements during trial arguments prefaced by the words "I think," comments concerning the credibility of Linda Dolloff and her attorney, and Anderson's urging the jury during closing arguments to "do justice."

"A properly instructed jury convicted Linda Dolloff after a lengthy trial," Saufley said in the decision. "The evidence in this case was sufficient to support a guilty finding. Our ultimate task in reviewing for both harmless error and obvious error is to determine whether Linda received a fair trial. Having reviewed all of Linda's many challenges, we are not persuaded that any prosecutorial misconduct, even considered cumulatively, affected the jury's verdict."

Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@mainetoday.com

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