Foster Bates, who was convicted of murder in 2001 for the death of Tammy Dickson, takes the stand Wednesday at a post-conviction review hearing in Cumberland Superior Court. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A Maine man serving a life sentence for rape and murder was able to share new evidence with the court this week after several unsuccessful appeals for a new trial.

But the witnesses his attorneys called on Wednesday may not be the path that he’s hoped for decades would clear his name.

Tammy Dickson

Foster Bates, 55, has maintained his innocence throughout the nearly 30 years since Tammy Dickson’s 1994 slaying. Dickson and Bates were neighbors at an apartment building in South Portland. Bates testified during his trial in 2001 that the two were having an affair, but he always has denied being her killer. He was convicted in 2002.

Bates was in Cumberland Superior Court Wednesday hoping to present enough evidence to get a new trial through a type of post-conviction appeal that has eluded his defense, mostly on procedural grounds. In 2021, Superior Court Justice Thomas McKeon issued a rare decision to grant Bates’ request, finding his claims of “actual innocence” so compelling that typical time constraints don’t apply.

This is Bates’ fourth petition for post-conviction review, a process that allows those convicted of a crime to request a new trial if they can prove they have newly discovered evidence or that there was something procedurally wrong with their trial.

McKeon approved Bates’ latest petition on the grounds that his appeals attorney was ineffective and that he has new evidence pointing to another man as Dickson’s killer.


Bates has tried to introduce witnesses who came forward years after his trial suggesting another man killed Dickson. But what those two witnesses said in court Wednesday was inconsistent with their previous statements – one admitted under oath that she lied to investigators – complicating Bates’ hopes for a new trial.


Shawna Poulin originally told detectives and a private investigator for Bates’ defense that her former partner’s stepfather, Michael Bridges, said several times that he had killed someone. Poulin told the court Wednesday that she lied – she had never heard Bridges confess to a murder. She said she lied in multiple interviews over several years because she felt coerced by a relative of Bridges’ ex-wife who had encouraged her to speak to police.

Bridges died in March 2023, according to his obituary.

Poulin told a Maine State Police detective in 2014 and 2022 that she heard Bridges say several times that he had killed someone. She repeated the story to Bates’ private investigator again in 2022 but then recanted her story Monday to Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber.

Attorney Tina Nadeau questions a witness at a post-conviction review hearing for Foster Bates, who was convicted of the 1994 murder of Tammy Dickson. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Bates’ attorney, Tina Nadeau, asked Poulin on Wednesday why she said this several times if it wasn’t true.


“How many times do I have to tell you,” Poulin said. “I lied. I don’t know why.”

“And you lied repeatedly?” Nadeau said.

“Yep,” Poulin said.

Amanda Indigo, who testified under a subpoena, was emotional on the stand and asked at least twice if she could take a break.

Indigo had testified at a 2016 hearing for Bates that she remembered seeing him go into Dickson’s apartment on Feb. 17, 1994, the night Dickson was killed, but Bates came out less than a half hour later. She said Dickson opened the door later that night when Indigo knocked and asked to use her phone. Indigo also had said in 2016 that Bridges was in the building the night Dickson was killed.

On Wednesday, she asked both Nadeau and Macomber if she risked perjury, saying that she lied about some of the details she shared in 2016, including a statement that Bates smelled like sex when he came out of Dickson’s apartment, and that she was drinking the night she saw him and Dickson.


Indigo testified she had been “in institutions” around the time of Dickson’s murder and afterward, and that her sister and mother have accused her of lying about seeing Bates and Dickson.

Her sister, Crystale Castro, testified to that Wednesday. Castro, who lived in the same building as Bates and Dickson during the time of the killing, said she had no memory of it, said Indigo never stayed with her and that she wasn’t there the night Dickson was killed.


Bates, taking the stand in an orange prison jumpsuit, his feet shackled, told the McKeon that his attorney in 2016, Peter Cyr, failed to immediately file a petition to consider Indigo’s statements.

Indigo was allowed to share these statements in court in 2016 during a hearing to review new DNA evidence in Bates’ case, which excluded him as a DNA source on a sock that was stuffed in Dickson’s mouth. Nadeau said in court Wednesday that the sock is one of several items of missing evidence from Bates’ trial.

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber questions a witness during a post-conviction review hearing for Foster Bates, who was convicted of the 1994 murder of Tammy Dickson. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

But the judge at the time, Superior Justice Roland Cole, ruled that the evidence wasn’t strong enough to merit a new trial and later dismissed a 2017 petition to reconsider Indigo’s statements as new evidence. Cole ruled that he didn’t believe the evidence had been new to Bates.


Bates testified Wednesday that because Cyr waited until the final hour to file a petition in 2017 – state law requires defendants to file a petition within a year of discovering new evidence – the judge was less likely to believe that Indigo’s testimony was new to Bates’ legal team.

In several letters shared in court, Bates asked Cyr when he was filing the petition. He also wrote the clerk of courts and asked his dad to visit Cyr’s office.

“What were you scared of, if they didn’t do due diligence?” Nadeau asked him.

“That they would deny me,” Bates said.

Cyr is scheduled to testify Thursday.

McKeon, who took over the case two years ago, also has agreed to let a DNA testing expert testify about DNA on the sock. The Maine Office of the Attorney General, which has prosecuted the case, plans to call on a specialist from the state police’s crime lab.

Because of reporting errors, this story was updated at 9 a.m. Thursday to correct when a witness last lied to investigators, and then at 7 p.m. Thursday to correct when Bates was convicted.

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