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Portland Press Herald from Portland, Maine • A5

Portland, Maine
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Portland Press Herald Wednesday, September 15, 2021 A5CONTINUED FROM A1 The officers saw Akers in a sleeping bag on the floor and directed him to come outside. During their conversation, Akers told them Flint was no longer alive and made other state- ments that police used against him. Investigators used that evidence to get a search warrant for the property. They eventually found body under a pile of deer hides and de- bris. He was 55.

Before his trial, Akers filed a motion to suppress his statements to the offi- cers that night. He argued the search was illegal, so the jury should not be allowed to hear that evi- dence. York County Supe- rior Court Justice Wayne Douglas denied that mo- tion. He wrote that the searches were reasonable because the officers were looking for a missing per- son. On Tuesday, the Supreme Judicial Court said that motion should have been granted.

The opinion va- cates the conviction and sends the case back to Su- perior Court, possibly for a new trial. be sure, the societal and judicial costs of sup- pression are significant the unanimous opin- ion says. the conduct in conducting non- consensual investigatory searches of curti- lage and camper without probable cause after mid- night and insisting on Ak- ers coming out of his res- idence to be interviewed was not flagrant, it was un- doubtedly purposeful and it cannot be excused, and the deterrence benefits outweigh the costs of sup- It was not immediate- ly clear how the decision would impact the prosecu- tion of the case. A spokesman said the Maine Attorney Office is still reviewing the opinion, and Akers will be held without bail unless the court directs otherwise. Attorney Rory McNamara, who represented Akers on appeal, did not respond Tuesday to an email or a voicemail.

The Supreme Judicial Court found the officers conducted an unreason- able and warrantless search, and the state did not prove that the state- ments Akers made not a product of coercive police TO THE The order highlighted the fact that the officers arrived in the middle of the night, used a footpath instead of the driveway and did not immediately knock on the camper door. They called out to Akers, not Flint. They heard a thud from inside the camper, but they did not see an altercation or describe the noise as a cry for help. the ser- line of questioning got some business to take care of, know why over here, gotta find is he was pointed from the very the order says. sergeant was not in- quiring if Akers had seen the missing person or knew where he was.

Rather, his questions were predicated from the beginning upon the assumption that Akers knew where the victim was Attorneys Valerie Adams and Kristine Hanly repre- sented Akers for the mo- tion to suppress and the subsequent trial. Adams on Tuesday called the opinion serious blow to the pros- this evidence had not come in at trial, I think that the trial would have result- ed in a very different out- she said. Adams said the attorneys felt the searches would clearly have been illegal if Akers lived in a house in- stead of a camper. always felt that the law should not discrimi- nate between a house and a she said. felt that it was obviously illegal what happened to him in his AKERS DID NOT TESTIFY York County Sheriff Bill King said Tuesday after- noon that he seen the ruling and have any comment.

After the arrest, a judge found Akers incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to receive treatment at Riv- erview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. The judge later found he had regained his competency, and while his state of mind was a central factor at the trial, it has not been raised in the appeal. At the trial, the state ac- cused Akers of killing Flint with a machete during a fight over allegations of stolen alcohol. The defense argued Akers was experi- encing a major mental ill- ness at the time. Akers did not testify at trial or make a statement at his sentencing hearing.

In 2020, the Supreme Ju- dicial Court vacated a mur- der conviction for Marcus Asante, a Massachusetts man who was accused in a drug-related killing in 2016. Asante said he shot Doug- las Morin Jr. of Oakfield in self-defense. The court found that the judge erred in in- structing the jurors on all of the elements of robbery, and that led to an error in the in- struction on self-defense on the murder count. Jury se- lection for his retrial began Monday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

The last time the court had overturned a homicide conviction was in 2004, when Brandon Thongsavanh got a new trial in the fatal stab- bing of a Bates College stu- dent in Lewiston. The jus- tices ruled that a reference to a profane T-shirt Thong- savanh was wearing on the night of the killing may have prejudiced the jury. He was convicted a second time and received the same sentence, 58 years in prison, for the death of Morgan McDuffee, the captain of the lacrosse team. Megan Gray 207-791-6327 Twitter: AKERS Continued from Page A1 Gregory Photographer in environmental and nat- ural resource law, from Nossaman LLP in Seattle. According to Keliher, Gov.

Janet Mills has already committed to covering legal fees in what he said will be a expensive probably be the tip of the iceberg, depending on the direction that this case goes, but we are going to be actively involved in that federal case assuming our motion to intervene will be he said. RULES SHOCK INDUSTRY Last month, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new set of rules for New lobster fishery aimed at reducing the risk to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and other whale species. Scientists believe there are only about 360 right whales left worldwide, so the spe- cies has become a flash- point among environmen- talists, federal regulators and fishermen because of the tendency to be- come entangled in fishing gear. The goal is to reduce the risk to the whales by at least 60 percent. The new rules will re- quire lobstermen to string more traps on a single rope and to use weaker ropes to allow entangled whales to break free, and will put more than 950 square miles of the Gulf of Maine off-lim- its to traditional lobster- ing from October through January the most lucrative season.

Lobster and crab fishermen also will have to add state-spe- cific color markings to gear, a requirement officials believed the state had al- ready met in 2020. Howev- er, the final rule included additional changes to the gear-marking sys- tems, blindsiding govern- ment and industry officials, as well as fishermen. The gear modifications required by the rule will go into effect May 1, 2022, which is the start of the American crab fishing year. The changes to the seasonally restricted areas are expect- ed to go into effect a month after they are entered into the Federal Registry, which is expected to happen soon. Many industry officials worry that the changes will cause undue harm to the lobster fishery, which is the backbone of fish- ing industry.

The new rules were criticized by all sides in the debate conservation groups pushing for stronger safeguards for whales, lob- stermen who feel wrongly targeted and Maine politi- cal leaders who are fierce- ly protective of the iconic lobster industry. Keliher told the Legisla- Marine Resources Committee on Tuesday that federal agencies are giv- en in federal court, and that the legal counsel has said they have a case as it pertains to these existing ENVIRONMENTALISTS PREVAIL Conservation groups orig- inally filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service in federal court in Washington, D.C., in early 2018, alleging that the fed- eral government failed to manage the fishing industry by not enforcing the Endan- gered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The civil suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diver- sity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Humane Society of the United States, criticized the Fisheries Service for supporting a 2014 biological opinion that found commer- cial fisheries are likely to kill or seriously injure more than three North Atlantic right whales a year, but also led the federal agency to conclude the fishery is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of North Atlantic right U.S. District Judge James Boasberg sided with the en- vironmental groups, ruling that the Fisheries Service violated the Endangered Species Act by not properly reporting the lobster indus- harmful impacts on right whales. Boasberg said the agen- cy would have to vacate its 2014 conclusion that lob- stering could continue, be- cause it knew right whales were dying at more than three times the rate sus- tainable for a species that had dwindled to no more than 400 whales.

Per court order, the agen- cy had until May 31 of this year to finalize a new biolog- ical opinion a requirement under the Endangered Species Act that becomes the basis for rule-making surrounding the specific species. The new biological opinion was released May 27. The document aims to reduce the risk to whales by 98 per- cent over the next 10 years. In it, federal officials found that, provided they meet the reduction targets in the implementation framework, none of the 10 fisheries in- cluded in the document, in- cluding the lobster fishery, were to jeopardize the continued existence of the North Atlantic right The biological opinion creates a four-phased ap- proach to all but eliminate whale deaths in federally managed fishing areas, the first of which is the reduction or the new set of rules announced last month. The second and third phases would include addi- tional risk-reduction mea- sures in 2025 and 2030.

SEEKING TO INTERVENE Keliher and other indus- try officials have said the 98 percent risk-reduction target over the span of a decade would require a complete reinvention of the lobster fishery, but environmentalists ar- gue that the right whales have 10 years to wait, and that the agency needs to take more drastic action now. On Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity, Con- servation Law Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife filed an updated lawsuit against the Fisheries Ser- vice for failing to prevent the whales from getting tan- gled up and killed in lobster gear, the Conservation Law Foundation said in a news release. The lawsuit, which amends and supplements the 2018 lawsuit, alleges that the new biological opinion and the new rules violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endan- gered Species Act and Ad- ministrative Procedure Act. decades, the agen- cy has failed to act or even follow the law, driving North Atlantic right whales to- ward Kristen Monsell, oceans legal di- rector at the Center for Bi- ological Diversity, said in a statement. already waited far too long to pro- tect North Atlantic right whales from deadly entan- glements.

time to get all vertical fishing lines out of right whale habitat and con- vert to on-demand ropeless fishing this lawsuit that Keli- her hopes the Department of Marine Resources will be able to join as an intervenor to help protect the fishery from even more restrictive rules in the future. Keliher said the timeline for when the state may file for inter- venor status is unclear. The Maine Asso- ciation also is an intervenor in the case. Jeff Nichols, spokesper- son for the Maine Depart- ment of Marine Resources, said in an email Tuesday that the intervention is the legal strategy right and will we have a voice in the legal pro- goal is to protect economically valu- able lobster fishery and in- cultural heritage while simultaneously find- ing a balance in the effort to protect right he said. Nichols said Mills has au- thorized the use of $230,000 from the Con- tingent Account to retain the use of outside counsel, with the approval of the state Attorney Office.

Hannah LaClaire 207-504- 8238 Twitter: WHALES Continued from Page A1 Photo by Moira of the New England Aquarium A right whale raises its head out of the water in the Bay of Fundy in 2005. The Maine Department of Marine Resources plans to intervene in an existing case against the National Marine Fisheries Service that was filed by a group of environmentalists who contend the agency done enough to protect the critically endangered whales. Bruce Akers sits in York County Superior Court in Alfred at the start of his trial in January 2020. The jury found Akers guilty of killing his neighbor Douglas Flint in Limington in 2016, but that conviction was vacated Tuesday. Police said that Akers killed Flint with a machete and then hid the body under deer hides in his yard.

AN EVENING WITH MORGAN RIELLY REZA JALALI AUTHORS REZA JALALI AND MORGAN RIELLY are the co-authors of Maine: The Trials and Triumphs of 21st Century a forthcoming book from Islandport Press that features 20 interviews compiled by Jalali and Rielly, as well as photos by Lilit Danielyan. They will be interviewed by Press Herald courts reporter Megan Gray. TUE, SEPT. 21 7:00 PM SPONSORED BY A Northbridge Senior Living Community A live event series of 1 :1 conversations with notable Mainers. Exclusively from the Portland Press Herald.


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