Nearly five years to the day after the killing, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court will hear the appeal of a Limington man’s murder conviction Thursday.

Bruce Akers of Limington was accused of murdering his neighbor, Douglas Flint, on June 9, 2016, and found guilty in January 2020 after an initial determination that he was incompetent to stand trial. He was eventually put on trial after treatment at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Last November, Akers was sentenced to 38 years in prison.

Now, his lawyers are arguing that police improperly searched Akers’ property without a warrant and then coerced incriminating statements from him. While police were still searching for Flint, whose relatives had reported him missing, Akers told them that he knew Flint wasn’t alive and knew where Flint’s body was buried.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, said police were justified in going onto Akers’ property as part of their search for Flint, who lived next door. They also said Akers answered questions voluntarily.

Before the trial got underway, a York County Superior Court judge agreed with prosecutors and allowed them to introduce evidence of what they found on Akers’ property and ruled that his statements were voluntary and admissible.

Akers and Flint shared a driveway in Limington and occasionally worked together, but their relationship was contentious. On June 9, 2016, they worked together stripping metal from a camper, rode to a metal dealer to sell the material and then went to a store to buy beer and a vodka drink.

Later that day, Akers called an acquaintance with the York County Sheriff’s Office and said he suspected that his neighbor had stolen his vodka. But when the sheriff’s officer suggested sending a deputy to investigate, Akers declined.

Bruce Akers appears in York County Superior Court in Alfred at the start of his sentencing hearing in November 2020. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

 

During a confrontation later, police and prosecutors said, Akers attacked Flint with a machete, hitting him as many as 16 times. Akers then hid Flint’s body on Akers’ property, under some deer carcasses.

Akers’ lawyers sought to have some of the evidence and testimony ruled out. After that was unsuccessful, they argued that he had hallucinations and paranoid thinking that led to an “abnormal condition of the mind” that meant he was not responsible for the killing.

The oral arguments before the justices are scheduled for late Thursday morning. There’s no timetable for when the court might rule.

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