PORTLAND — The man who is in prison for the murder of Kelley Gorham in 2007 is asking for a second trial because of “newly discovered evidence” implicating two men who were portrayed during the initial trial as alternative suspects.

The attorney for Jason Twardus filed a motion Tuesday in York County Superior Court saying that the state failed to provide his client with the new evidence in a timely fashion.

The prosecution notes that some of that evidence did not surface until months after Twardus was found guilty.

Twardus, who lived in Rochester, N.H., was convicted in October 2010 of murdering his former fiancee at her home in Alfred and burying her body on property owned by his father in northern New Hampshire.

Gorham was last seen alive at her home on the night of Aug. 7, 2007. Her body was found Sept. 2, 2007, in Stewartstown, N.H.

In August 2011, Twardus was sentenced to serve 38 years in the Maine State Prison.

The new evidence cited by attorney Daniel Lilley of Portland is a jailhouse statement made by the late John Durfee to another inmate, and the fact that another potential suspect – Calvin Degreenia – was arrested in April 2011 in Nashua, N.H., and charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Twardus was convicted of strangling Gorham.

Lilley contends that the new evidence, if it had been available to a jury, would have led the jury to acquit his client. During the trial, Lilley claimed that Durfee and Degreenia killed Gorham and framed his client for her death.

“These are astounding facts that would have supported the alternative suspect defense in this case and certainly raised reasonable doubt as to Twardus’ alleged guilt. These facts must be considered by a jury; they are essential to the Defense’s case,” Lilley says in his motion for a new trial.

Lilley also filed a motion Tuesday to postpone his client’s pending appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court until his request for a new trial has been addressed by Superior Court Justice G. Arthur Brennan.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who prosecuted Twardus, said Tuesday that his office provided Lilley with information about Durfee and Degreenia in the fall as it became available.

Stokes said there was no attempt to withhold the information, which he said has little, if any, relevance to Twardus’ conviction.

When asked if the conviction was appropriate, Stokes said, “There is no doubt in my mind.”

Lilley said that Durfee – he calls him an “alternative suspect” in court documents – made incriminating statements regarding Gorham to Kenneth Villella while Villella and Durfee were inmates in the York County Jail.

According to Lilley, Durfee told Villella that he “knew how to bury people” and that he had helped someone else – Villella could not recall who – bury Gorham’s body.

Durfee also told Villella that the blanket in which Gorham’s body was wrapped belonged to Durfee’s daughter, Lilley says in his court filing.

Durfee, who was Gorham’s landlord, died Aug. 29 at the age of 67.

State police investigators interviewed Villella twice – in June and October 2011 – but Lilley said he was not given the results of those police interviews until Dec. 5. 

“Durfee has made statements that could only have been known to someone complicit in the murder,” Lilley alleges in his motion.

After being interviewed by police in June, Villella wanted the state to make a deal on his sentence before he gave more information, according to Lilley’s filing, which does not say what Villella’s sentence was.

Stokes said the state does “not cut deals.”

“Durfee has no credibility. I think that was established at the trial,” Stokes said. “The (jailhouse) conversation happened after the trial. There is no way we could have provided the defense with this information before the trial.”

As for Degreenia, Lilley provided the court with police records that show he was charged with domestic violence assault on April 26, 2011, by police in Nashua. The records indicate that Degreenia tried to strangle his live-in girlfriend.

Lilley said Degreenia worked for Durfee and lived on the same property. He also claims that Degreenia had a romantic relationship with Gorham.

He said the police records demonstrate Degreenia’s violent tendencies and should have been disclosed immediately to the defense.

Stokes said Degreenia’s alleged criminal conduct has nothing to do with Gorham’s murder.

Degreenia was charged more than three years after Gorham’s body was found, Stokes noted.

Lilley said that in a new trial with the new evidence, a jury would exonerate his client.

“Instead of just a series of ‘lucky coincidences’ as the state characterized Jason Twardus’ frameup, the picture turns from one of coincidence to cunning design,” Lilley says in his motion for a new trial.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]