PORTLAND – The Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected the appeal of a Rockport woman who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for stabbing a man in 2017 in the town of Waldo.
The state issued its ruling July 9 in the appeal of Victoria Scott, 25, who was convicted of manslaughter in Waldo County Superior Court in April 2018 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison with all but 11 years suspended after a jury trial. She was also ordered to serve four years of probation and pay $5,531.60 in restitution.
The decision of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court was not unanimous. Of the six justices, one said that Scott deserved a new trial.
Scott was convicted for the stabbing death of Edwin Littlefield, Jr., who was stabbed multiple times during an argument.
According to the court documents, the defense argued April 9 the prosecutor made several statements during his closing argument that constituted prosecutorial misconduct and compromised the integrity of the trial.
One of the statements that was challenged by the defense was made by the prosecutor who said a witness testified that Scott went into the bedroom and grabbed something. The ruling stated that the defense correctly pointed out in its brief that the witness did not, in her trial testimony, say anything about Scott grabbing something, indicating a knife.
The State acknowledged that its attorney “apparently misspoke” on this point, but argued that “it was reasonable for the prosecutor to ask the jury to infer that Scott went into a room to retrieve the knife, according to the ruling.
The defense also stated that a witness had indicated that Scott previously stabbed another person, information that a judge had ruled was not admissible and not to be presented to the jury.
Additionally, the defense said the investigating detective testified that Scott was a “very competent and composed liar,” which they argued was an “improper statement that was reinforced by the prosecutor during this closing argument.”
The defense did not object to the statements during the trial.
Part of the state’s ruling concluded that “the mere existence of a misstatement by a prosecutor at trial, or the occasional verbal misstep, will not necessarily constitute misconduct when reviewed in the context of the proceedings.”
However, Associate Justice Joseph Jabar’s opinion was that the actions did merit a new trial for Scott.
“I respectfully dissent because I believe that Scott was denied a fair trial due to the cumulative effect of inadmissible and prejudicial testimony of two witnesses and improper remarks made by the prosecutor during closing argument, Jabar said. “Although each of these errors may be harmless when viewed in isolation, the errors, when considered in toto, require reversal of the conviction.”
The state also rejected Scott’s claims that she acted in self-defense and that her prison sentence was “cruel and unusual.”
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com