A York County Superior Court Justice has denied motions to suppress evidence in the murder case of Bruce Akers, shown here in a March file photo. Akers, of Limington, is accused of killing his neighbor, Douglas Flint in June 2016. A trial is scheduled for August. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

ALFRED — A York County Superior Court justice has denied a motion to suppress statements made by a defendant accused of killing his Limington neighbor in June 2016. Justice Wayne Douglas also denied defendant Bruce Akers’ claim that sheriff’s deputies had illegally searched his property.

Akers, 60, is accused of killing his 55-year-old neighbor, Douglas Flint, on June 9, 2016. Court affidavits allege Akers murdered Flint with a machete and then tried to conceal the crime by hiding his victim’s body under decomposing deer carcasses.

Jury selection has been set for Aug. 12, with the trial scheduled to begin the following day. If convicted of murder, Akers will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison. The maximum prison sentence for murder in Maine is life.

Akers had claimed that the removal by York County Sheriff’s Office deputies of a weather covering over the window of a camper in which he was sleeping constituted an illegal search.

The motion to suppress also asserted that a York County Sheriff’s Office sergeant’s calling out to Akers that he wanted to talk with him constituted a command, making his future actions involuntary.

Deputies had gone to Akers’ property while looking for Flint, who was reported missing by his family members.

In his denial of the motion to suppress, Justice Douglas wrote that it was reasonable for the deputies to go to the neighboring property to look for the missing man and speak with Akers. The first time deputies went to the property, they found camper trailers that were padlocked. They returned a few hours later, announced their presence and then called out for Akers. When they heard noise coming from one of the campers, it was reasonable for them to investigate, the judge noted.

“They did not know it was Akers inside, it might have been Flint,” Justice Douglas wrote.

As well, the judge found that statements made by Akers outside the camper were uttered before he was taken into custody, and statements he made later, after he was advised of his Miranda rights, were made spontaneously, and not in response to questions.

Akers had claimed that after the Miranda warning was given, the deputies pressured him in subtle ways by engaging him in conversation about his dogs, his family, his work, and other topics, all in an effort to coax a confession from him, Justice Douglas noted.

“The court rejects this contention,” wrote Douglas. He said there was no bar against the officers continuing to talk with the defendant, and said the officers were asking questions like whether Akers was wearing his seat belt, if his dogs would require feeding and the like, and that the statements Akers made were spontaneous and not in answer to any question.

Akers had claimed his statements were made involuntarily, but that argument was rejected by the judge, who said a 28 minute recording of what had transpired showed Akers to be alert, composed, stable, aware of his situation, and oriented to time and place.

During the March hearing on the motion to suppress, York County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Steve Thistlewood said as he was searching Akers for weapons, Akers said “the guy just wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Thistlewood said he then read Akers his Miranda rights and asked if he wanted to talk and Akers responded “no.”

The recording of the event was played during the hearing.

Deputy Robert Carr testified to his role in the search for Flint and in looking for Akers.

He said while sitting in the conference room of the Limington Town Office, where the policed substation is located, Akers made a voluntary statement.

“It wasn’t anything I planned,” Carr said Akers told them, adding Akers said he didn’t want to be known for doing anything bad.

Maine State Police search dogs later uncovered Flint’s body on Akers’ three-acre property underneath several rotting deer carcasses.

Originally found incompetent to stand trial in July 2018, Akers was later treated at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. Reports issued in October and December found that Akers possessed “the full range of skills associated with trial competence.” Akers did not dispute the reports. Earlier this year, Justice Douglas found that he was competent to stand trial.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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