Retired Portland Detective Daniel Young listens to a question from attorney Amy Fairfield on Monday at the Cumberland County Courthouse. On the fifth day of Anthony Sanborn’s post-conviction review, Fairfield had Young review documents related to the case, which Young helped to investigate.

An attorney for Anthony H. Sanborn Jr. said Portland police did not turn over to the defense during Sanborn’s 1992 murder trial audio recordings between Jessica L. Briggs and a man believed to have been her pimp made several days before her slaying.

But the tape, a portion of which was played in court Monday, was not admitted into evidence at Sanborn’s post-conviction review because the retired Portland police detective who took possession of it after the 1989 killing of Briggs could not remember its contents and authenticate it.

Amy Fairfield, an attorney for Sanborn, played several seconds of the answering machine cassette that was received by then-Detective Daniel Young from Roberto Gonzales, who met Briggs at the Maine Youth Center in South Portland.

Questioning about the tape stopped after Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam argued that the recording should be excluded if Young has no memory of it.

“I still don’t think there is a foundation for the phone message tape (to be included in evidence),” Elam said. “I don’t know how she lays the foundation, I don’t know how she establishes when it was done, and I don’t know how she establishes who was on there.”

Fairfield said the tape was relevant because Gonzales knew Briggs and he was investigated by police.


“He was a prime alternative suspect, was known to be her pimp, and this evidence is absolutely relevant,” Fairfield said. “Mr. Young took the tape in, he signed it, he wrote on it. We have notes of him talking to Roberto on the exact date of the tape being received.”

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam, left, addresses Justice Joyce Wheeler on Monday during a debate about admission of evidence while Anthony Sanborn’s attorney Amy Fairfield listens.

Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler said that without authentication by a witness, the tape cannot go into the pool of evidence that she will consider to determine if Sanborn’s constitutional rights were violated during his trial.

Fairfield said she will have another witness testify to the tape’s authenticity.

The battle over the recording is typical of the five days of hearings held so far in Sanborn’s post-conviction review effort.

Clear, independent recollections by police witnesses – of who said what, when, and to whom – have been rare so far. Detectives Young and James Daniels, the lead investigator in the case, who testified last week, have both relied heavily on contemporaneous notes, reports and other documents to refresh their memories.

The testimony is painstaking, and attorneys on both sides are grappling with thousands upon thousands of pages of documents.


On each day, much time has been spent shuffling through papers to find relevant notebook pages or trial transcript excerpts, or giving witnesses a few minutes to read through a report before testifying about it.

So far, Fairfield, who has the burden to prove that no reasonable juror would have convicted Sanborn if given the new information she is presenting, has done the bulk of the questioning. The state will have the chance to cross-examine every witness who testifies.

Anthony Sanborn listens to testimony by retired Portland Detective Daniel Young on Monday, the fifth day of Sanborn’s post-conviction review. Sanborn was convicted for the 1989 murder of Jessica Briggs and served 27 years in prison before being released on bail in April after the prosecution’s key eyewitness recanted her testimony.

Fairfield has offered nearly 100 exhibits, ranging from pink “while you were out” phone message slips to typed documents to pages of handwritten notes photocopied from flip-top pads. Some documents contain the handwriting of more than one detective, meaning each would have to testify about the relevant portions.

Young retired from the Portland Police Department in 2005 and later became an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office before retiring in December 2016. He currently works in the private sector doing fire investigations.

For the third day Monday, Young parsed through handwritten notes and reports he authored or co-wrote nearly 30 years ago.

Sanborn, now 45, is attempting to clear his name after mounting a challenge to his 1992 conviction, claiming that police and prosecutors colluded to withhold evidence and coerce witnesses into testifying against him. Both Briggs and Sanborn were 16 years old and living on the streets when Briggs was stabbed and slashed to death on the Maine State Pier. Her body was found May 24, 1989, dumped nearby in Portland Harbor.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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