BANGOR – The Maine Supreme Judicial Court today heard arguments in an appeal from a man convicted last year of a murder that occurred in 1983. 

Lawyers for Thomas H. Mitchell Jr. cited seven reasons why the trial verdict of guilty should be overturned.

Mitchell, 53, is serving a life sentence for the murder of Judith L. Flagg, who was 23 when she was stabbed to death in her rural Fayette home on Jan. 6, 1983.

James Strong, an attorney who represented Mitchell at his trial in Farmington, argued the defense was prevented from telling the jury about an alternative suspect and from cross-examining the medical examiner who did the autopsy.

Strong told justices that a pretrial ruling preventing the introduction of an alternative suspect theory “was probably the most surprising and obviously the most devastating to the defense.”

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said the judge rightly prevented the alternative suspect theory since there was no reasonable connection between that suspect and Flagg’s death.

“The state is going to have many suspects in a case like this,” Stokes said.

Flagg’s parents, her sister and her brother and other family members watched the oral arguments in Bangor.

Mitchell was indicted for Flagg’s murder in September 2006 after authorities re-examined evidence using new techniques to recover DNA; his DNA was found under fingernail clippings from Flagg’s right hand.

At the time of the indictment, Mitchell was nearing the end of a 35-year sentence for the attempted murder, kidnapping and rape of a 17-year-old girl whose parents he had befriended.

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