AUBURN — State prosecutors dismissed a criminal trespassing charge against a Unity woman who last year protested against crude oil freight trains from passing through this city’s downtown area.
A jury split over Jessie Dowling’s guilt at trial last month.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis reviewed evidence in the case before deciding to toss out the charge, he said Thursday.
“It’s purely for the state a matter of resources,” he said. “We had a look at the November trial list. I have dozens of cases, many of which we have been waiting to try,” including robberies, arsons and domestic cases, he said.
“We just don’t have the ability to try it again and take up the court time with a misdemeanor matter,” he said.
That’s not to say the case is not important to the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s office, he was quick to point out.
“We do treat what happened, obviously, very seriously,” he said. “We tried the case, did everything we could in the case, but at the end of the day, sometimes decisions like this have to be made when you don’t have all the resources in the world.”
Matulis is one of a few prosecutors who handle an often heavy caseload of criminal cases in Androscoggin County.
Dowling’s attorney, Logan Perkins, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Matulis tried Dowling and co-defendant Douglas Bowen Jr. of Porter in an unusual court proceeding that involved two juries at a single trial. Bowen was convicted and fined $100, while Dowling’s case ended with a hung jury.
Each jury heard different opening statements and closing arguments by the attorneys, but most of the evidence presented by the state applied to both defendants.
On Aug. 28, 2013, Bowen and Dowling were arrested by Auburn police when they sat on the downtown railroad tracks near Denny’s restaurant and linked arms. They and more than a dozen others were protesting trains hauling crude oil. Several weeks earlier, a similar train crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and killed 47 people.