AUBURN — A local man convicted of murder in the baseball bat beating deaths of two men in 2005 is claiming his trial attorney was ineffective and is seeking a new trial.

Tommy Dyer, 24, was back in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Wednesday, this time with a new court-appointed attorney, Henry Griffin.

Dyer’s co-defendant, Gary Gauthier Jr., 28, argued his case for a new trial on Tuesday.

Both men were convicted of murder in 2006 in the slayings of James Vining, 43, and John Graffam, 30, during a late-night, drunken encounter in woods near railroad tracks off Foss Road in Lewiston.

Justice Thomas Delahanty II sentenced Dyer to 47 years; Gauthier to 60 years. Delahanty also presided over the two defendants’ hearings for post-conviction review. He said his rulings on both cases would come later.

Griffin argued that Dyer’s trial attorney, Peter Rodway, should have pursued a possible defense relating to Dyer’s history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as Tourette Syndrome.

Dyer’s family gave Rodway his client’s clinical and medical records before the trial, but Rodway never had Dyer tested or evaluated, he said Wednesday during a hearing on the post-conviction review petition.

Griffin hired a psychologist to review Dyer’s mental health records and meet with him. Psychologist Brian Rines testified Wednesday that Dyer suffered from alcohol abuse and had developed a “dependent personality disorder.” Alcohol would have worsened Dyer’s mental health problems, Rines said.

“It took virtually no effort on my part to make it happen,” Griffin said of his probe into Dyer’s mental health. It wouldn’t have taken much effort for Rodway to do the same, Griffin said.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who helped prosecute the case against the two defendants, asked Rodway whether he considered using Dyer’s medical or psychological history as a defense.

He said he hadn’t. Instead, Rodway said he relied on Dyer’s feeling of being under duress because Gauthier had reportedly threatened to kill Dyer with a knife if he refused to participate in the beatings. “I think it’s much more powerful” a defense, Rodway said.

“If you had seen any kind of mental health defense in this case would you have pursued it?” Marchese asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

Rodway said he didn’t want his client’s statements to police to come out at trial. Prosecutors had agreed not to use those statements, which put both Dyer and Gauthier at the scene of the crime. But Gauthier’s attorney, Robert Ruffner, decided midway through the trial to reveal them to the jury. For that reason, Rodway, who was “shocked” by Ruffner’s reversal, shifted his trial strategy and put his client on the witness stand to explain his actions.

By the time the state rested, it had presented physical evidence that put the two defendants at the crime scene, but had no firm narrative to describe what had happened there, Rodway said

“I wanted to have a trial that left some uncertainty as to what happened in the woods that night,” he said. “I thought there was a lot of doubt.”

Rodway said he had approached Ruffner to develop a joint defense strategy, but Ruffner wasn’t interested, Rodway said.

Griffin said Rodway could have tried to block Ruffner from using Dyer’s statements to police. But Rodway said he didn’t challenge the validity of allowing Dyer’s statement at trial because there were no indications that Dyer hadn’t volunteered to speak with police.

Dyer’s conviction stems from the September 2005 incident during which prosecutors said the two defendants lured the two victims into a wooded site with the promise of marijuana plants. The two victims were beaten with a baseball bat and buried in a shallow grave; their wallets taken to hide their identities.

Police discovered evidence from the crime scene, including bloody clothing and booze, hidden in woods in Pownal. A caretaker found the stash and called police a couple of months after the crime.


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