December 23, 2013

Troubled path to trial for suspect in 1976 killing

Long before his arrest, after a ‘chewing gum survey’ sting, Gary Raub had many run-ins with the law on both coasts.

By BETTY ADAMS Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — For the past 14 months, Gary S. Raub has been behind bars awaiting trial on a charge of criminal homicide in the June 1976 stabbing death of a 70-year-old woman in her Augusta home.

click image to enlarge

Gary Raub, wearing headphones to hear the court proceedings, pleaded not guilty on Feb. 1, 2013, in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta in the 1976 stabbing death of 70-year-old Blanche M. Kimball in her home on State Street in Augusta.

Kennebec Journal file photos/Joe Phelan

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Augusta Deputy Police Chief Jared Mills, left, and State Police Lt. Chris Coleman answer questions during a news conference in October 2012 in Augusta in which they announced a break in the Blanche Kimball case.

His lawyers and the prosecutor have filed a number of pretrial motions in the case, and a judge last week set the trial for late May or early June in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Raub, now 65, was homeless and living on the streets of the University District in Seattle in his native Washington state when he was arrested following an undercover sting. Raub was asked to take part in a “chewing gum survey” that was actually a move by authorities to get a sample of his DNA. Maine police had tested items kept from the Augusta murder scene and said Raub’s blood and DNA were on some of them.

The charge against Raub – the equivalent of what is now a murder charge – says he “knowingly inflicted great physical suffering” while intending to kill Blanche M. Kimball. Kimball was a retired dental technician and practical nurse who occasionally took in boarders at her State Street home. Raub, then known as Gary Robert Wilson, lived at her home for a short time.

Investigators questioned Raub twice shortly after Kimball’s death, and he denied any involvement.

LONG RAP SHEET

Then, in December 1976 – just six months after Kimball was found dead – Raub was in court on a charge of burglarizing a home at 7 East Crescent St., not far from the Lawrence House, on Water Street in Augusta, where he was living at the time.

In April 1977, Raub was sentenced to five years in the Maine State Prison on the burglary conviction, with Justice Edward Stern noting that “if (Raub) hadn’t been apprehended, the evidence indicating that he had a dangerous knife in his hands, the consequences might have been a great deal more serious.”

Once free, Raub returned to the West Coast, winding up in trouble not long after he got to his native Clallam County.

In a letter dated June 21, 1982, Clallam County prosecutors sought certified copies of Raub’s sentencings in Maine, indicating there was a charge of third degree rape pending against him in Washington.

Maine State Police interest in him was rekindled after he was accused in an October 2011 stabbing in Seattle that injured another homeless man – an incident Raub’s attorneys, Kevin Sullivan and Sherry Tash, are seeking to keep from jurors.

ANOTHER SUSPECT?

The defense attorneys have sought a number of other things as well, including access to evidence storage and an opportunity to present an alternative suspect theory. The state wants to exclude from the trial evidence of alternative suspects.

“Based on discovery, it is evident that the state’s case is based wholly on the results of DNA and blood testing of the items allegedly collected at the scene,” they say in filings in Kennebec County Superior Court. “Apart from such test results, nothing connects the defendant to the alleged crime.”

They say that many of the items of clothing collected from Kimball’s home “apparently disappeared or were intentionally destroyed” and want jurors to be aware of that. However, they seek to keep from jurors photos of the crime scene and autopsy “as they are particularly gruesome.”

Justice John Nivison, in an order dated Dec. 13, said pretrial hearings to resolve those issues will be set for March.

BROKEN HOME LIFE

Recently, a sister and brother of Raub, both of whom still live in Washington, talked about Raub’s early years, offering some perspective on the man whose arrest mug shot showed him with purple streaks on both sides of his white beard and a flesh-colored bandage on the top of his head.

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