A judge recently sanctioned the Maine Office of the Attorney General, saying it failed to properly disclose records indicating a witness might not be credible in the case of a Bath man accused of killing his mother.

Justice Daniel Billings called it the latest in a “troubling” pattern of late disclosures in other homicide cases in the state.

Billings said the AG’s office violated the discovery process by not disclosing key personnel records in the case against Jason Ibarra until Aug. 22, two weeks before jury selection had been scheduled. The records suggested a state’s witness consumed alcohol while on duty and an investigator did not find the witness credible, according to Billings.

Attorney General Aaron Frey answers a question posed by a member of the Judiciary Committee at the State House in Augusta during a hearing on May 3. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

“This is outrageous,” Billings wrote. “A criminal defendant’s right to counsel goes beyond simply having a lawyer at trial and includes having a lawyer that is properly prepared and has had sufficient time to consider alternative strategies and to properly counsel his client on his or her options based on a thoughtful review of all of the evidence in the case. Late disclosures, such as this one at issue here, endanger the fundamental right to counsel and must be taken seriously by the court.”

Danna Hayes, special assistant to Attorney General Aaron Frey, said the decision came as a surprise.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Court chose to cast aspersions on the good work of the people of the Criminal Division while objecting to a practice with which other Courts have found no fault,” Hayes said in a statement.


Billings on Aug. 30 ruled the AG’s office couldn’t call on the witness at trial due to the timing of the disclosure. The witness was not identified. A week later, Ibarra’s lawyers and the state reached a plea deal, with Ibarra admitting to a lesser charge of manslaughter. He had been charged with depraved indifference murder, which was dropped as part of the deal.

In court documents, Ibarra’s lawyers, Jeremy Pratt and Rory McNamara, said the AG’s office has a recent track record of disclosing personnel records in an “untimely manner,” citing five cases:

Rayshaun Moore, a Bangor man convicted of fatally stabbing a man outside a nightclub in 2020. The state made a disclosure June 25, 2021, months after his trial. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison, though earlier this year, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ordered he be resentenced, saying a judge’s original sentence may have been influenced by Moore’s decision to go to trial.

Frederick Allen, a Newport man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for strangling his wife and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The state made the disclosure Oct. 6, 2021, 29 days before jury selection.

Jessica Williams, a Stockton Springs woman convicted of killing her 3-year-old son and sentenced to 47 years in prison. The state made the disclosure Aug. 22, 2022, 42 days before jury selection.

Shawn Purvis, a Scarborough roofing contractor found not guilty of workplace manslaughter after one of his workers fell to his death. The state made the disclosure Nov. 21, 2021, 30 days before trial.


Ronald Harding, a Brewer man found guilty of manslaughter in his infant son’s death. The state made the disclosure “almost contemporaneous” to the start of his trial earlier this year.

None of the judges overseeing those five cases issued sanctions for the timing of the disclosures.

Jason Ibarra, of Bath, is accused of strangling his mother in May 2022. Courtesy of Two Bridges Regional Jail

In Ibarra’s case, Billings wrote, “The explanations offered by the State for the late disclosure are at best lacking and at worst inconsistent. The defense has provided information suggesting a pattern of late disclosures by the State in homicide cases. This pattern suggests either late disclosure for tactical reasons, or more likely, slipshod procedures at the Attorney General’s office. In any case, while this pattern is troubling, the court must fashion a sanction that does justice in this particular case.

“The prejudice caused by the late disclosure concerning the witness can be substantially alleviated by excluding the State from calling the witness at trial.”

Billings cited a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case Giglio v. United States, which holds that when “the reliability of a given witness may well be determinative of guilt or innocence, nondisclosure of evidence affecting credibility falls within [the Brady] rule.” The 1963 Supreme Court decision in the case Brady v. Maryland holds that the prosecution’s withholding of certain evidence related to guilt or punishment violates a defendant’s right to due process.

Billings wrote, “The State argues that, though it would have been better practice to submit the records in question (in the Ibarra case) for in camera review earlier, the records did not constitute Giglio material that was subject to automatic discovery under Rule 16(a) of the Maine Rules of Unified Criminal Procedure. The State is mistaken.

“This is exactly the kind of information that an experienced prosecutor should know Giglio requires to be disclosed and it should not be necessary for a judge to order the material to be disclosed, though five different judges have previously ordered disclosure of the records at issue in this case.”

Ibarra, 43, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge after police said he admitted to officers he killed his 66-year-old mother, Jeanine, in her Bath apartment on May 24, 2022. Ibarra had been staying with her following his release from prison on assault and threatening convictions, according to police. After his arrest the day of his mother’s death, his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.39, more than four times the legal limit, according to court documents.

As a result of his plea deal, he pleaded guilty to domestic violence manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. He would have faced at least 25 years to life in prison had he been convicted on the murder charge. The AG’s office is seeking a 30-year sentence, with all but 15 years suspended, and probation.

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