Foster Bates, convicted in 1994 murder, seeks new trial

Foster Bates (WGME)

FREEPORT (WGME) -- Foster Bates has sat in a jail cell for more than a decade after being convicted of killing his neighbor, Tammy Dickson, but he is now seeking a new trial.

Bates and his legal team say new DNA evidence could prove he is innocent, but the state says they still have enough evidence that could keep him in jail.

Freeport High School was the location for multiple hearings by the state Supreme Court Thursday, all to raise interest in the judicial system.

The first hearing was to determine whether or not Bates’ conviction of murder and gross sexual assault should go back for a retrial.

South Portland Police say Bates tied up, raped and murdered Dickson in 1994.

Police determined Bates did it because they found his DNA inside her at the scene, but his lawyers say that just confirms Bates' testimony that he was having an affair with Dickson.

"It's no surprise that DNA was inside her, it's not evidence of sexual assault or murder, it is evidence of the consensual sexual relationship that was going on,” Rory Mucnamara, Bates’ attorney, said.

New DNA evidence shows that a green sock that was used to gag and suffocate Dickson carried no DNA of Bates, but did have DNA from at least three other men.

The defense says that shows Bates innocence, but the state says it doesn't matter what DNA was on the sock when it comes to a deadly sexual assault.

"The fact that Mr. Bates’ DNA was found inside the victim on the night of the murder, that it had to be deposited on the night of the murder, is much more powerful,” Donald Macomber, assistant attorney general, said.

There currently is no timetable of when the justices will give their response.

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