SOUTH PARIS — The man charged with killing a couple at a 24 Market Square apartment New Year’s night two years ago doesn’t plan to present an alternative suspect at his upcoming trial.

Mark Penley Oxford County Jail photo

Through his attorneys at a hearing Monday, Mark Penley, 51, of Peru responded to a motion filed by prosecutors to exclude alternative suspects from Penley’s trial, which is expected to be held in October in Oxford County Superior Court.

Justice Thomas Warren wrote in court papers that the “defense does not intend to offer specific alternate suspect evidence.”

Warren heard arguments this week on several other motions filed by both prosecutors and the defense in lead-up to Penley’s trial.

He’s charged with two counts of intentional or knowing murder.

Prosecutors expected to call witnesses to which the defense objected, saying their testimony would be hearsay. But Warren said he would allow them to testify as to what they saw or heard, but not repeat hearsay.

Penley filed a motion seeking to keep from trial testimony about “alleged domestic assaults.”

Any allegations of domestic abuse raised at trial would “be devoid of probative value” in the murder case and would “unfairly prejudice the defendant and confuse the issues for the jury,” according to a motion filed by Maurice Porter, one of Penley’s defense attorneys.

Warren wrote that he couldn’t rule on the general issue of “domestic violence” or “domestic abuse” in advance of the trial and would have to “consider the issue in the context of specific items of evidence or testimony.”

In response to a defense motion to exclude at trial any testimony or reference to Penley’s mental health records, Justice Warren noted that prosecutors didn’t intend to offer any mental health records at trial.

The defense also is seeking to prevent prosecutors from presenting Facebook audio-clips that “purportedly” were located on Penley’s Facebook account.

Warren told prosecutors to list which clips they intended to introduce at trial by Sept. 13 and told the defense to file any objections to those clips by Sept. 20.

Most of the motions filed were hashed out in court Monday and agreed to by the parties.

Penley is accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, 31-year-old Heather Bickford of Canton, and Dana Hill, 31, at Hill’s apartment in Paris on New Year’s night in 2019.

He wrote to the judge in December 2020 to waive his constitutional right to a speedy trial due to his desire to have any hearings in the case take place in court without face coverings.

Two days after calling 911 to report the two deaths at Hill’s apartment at 24 market Square, authorities charged Penley with two counts of murder.

Heather Bickford’s two daughters — one 8 years old and the other 2 months old — were at the apartment, but were uninjured, police wrote in an affidavit.

Penley had told a dispatcher he had gone to the apartment to see his children when he discovered Bickford and Hill were dead, according to a transcript of the 911 call obtained by the Advertiser Democrat.

He said there was “blood everywhere,” and that Bickford had “a gun in her hand.”

According to the affidavit, a Maine State Police detective said she found both bodies on the floor and a .22-caliber Ruger SR22 in Bickford’s right hand.

While speaking with Penley outside the apartment that night, a Maine State Police trooper said he saw, in plain view, loose cartridges and a box of .22-caliber ammunition inside Penley’s vehicle.

Another detective at the scene checked Penley’s vehicle and found a 50-round ammunition box that had eight rounds missing. That detective also found a pair of blue latex gloves on the front passenger floor of the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

An autopsy revealed Bickford was shot five times and Hill three times.

Penley is charged with killing the couple with a Ruger SR22p handgun.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset pending trial.

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