I-Team investigates: Who killed Jessica Briggs?

A decades-old murder case heads back to court next week (file photos)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- A decades-old murder case heads back to court next week.

Convicted murderer Anthony Sanborn, Jr. is out of prison on bail after a key witness says she lied during the original trial.

Against the background of Portland's beautiful Casco Bay, ugly memories of a disturbing discovery are coming back to the surface.

"You're going to hear testimony that Jessica's throat was slashed almost ear to ear. You're going to hear she had a gash in her abdomen to the point she was almost eviscerated," said then-prosecutor Pam Ames at the 1992 trial.

Twenty-five years ago, jurors convicted Sanborn. He was only 16 at the time of the crime.

"That guy deserves to be free because he's innocent; no doubt in my mind," said defense attorney Amy Fairfield after an April bail hearing.

Fairfield said Sanborn was convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

In April, Judge Joyce Wheeler granted Sanborn bail after the state's key eyewitness from the 1992 trial changed her story.

"Happy to be home; it's almost justice, but it's a good feeling," Sanborn said.

According to the 1992 trial transcript, reviewed by the I-Team:

Cady: "Tony swung and stabbed her."
Ames: "What did he stab her with?"
Cady: "Some kind of knife. She bent over. I didn't hear her say anything, but she made some strange noise."

In April, Cady told the judge she never saw the murder.

After the 1992 conviction, prosecutor Ames called Hope Cady's testimony very compelling.

"She made an excellent witness. She was very, very credible, and I believe that was the eyewitness testimony that made it for the state," Ames said in 1992.

However, Ames says the case would have still been strong without Hope Cady.

"We were willing to go forward without a reasonable doubt without her," Ames said.

In fact, Ames told CBS 13 the case was scheduled to go to trial without Cady's testimony.

She said the state didn't even know Cady existed until she came to them -- years after the crime -- and just a few months before the trial was set to start.

"There is ample evidence, corroborated by the medical examiner's report consistent with what Hope Cady said -- the way the stab wounds were inflicted -- all the testimony was corroborated by other testimony," Ames explained.

She said they also had a confession from Sanborn to his close friend and roommate at the time Gerard Rossi.

"He asked for some money, she refused. He got upset, was going to walk away, and turned around and stabbed -- grabbed her by the hair, slashed with left hand and stabbed her 11, 12 times," Rossi testified in 1992.

Defense attorney Fairfield said there are other problems with the case.

She claims police detectives and prosecutors worked together to hide evidence from Sanborn's original defense team.

"This has been an abhorrent miscarriage of justice," Fairfield said.

Fairfield said 1990 witness statements that are part of police records but never given to the defense are proof.

A handwritten note says "statements not sent as discovery per request of Detective Young."

In April, detective Young said he's offended by the insinuation that he suppressed anything.

Former prosecutor Ames also denies withholding any material from the defense.

"We were under a microscope with cameras in courtroom. We were under the microscope; anything that went into evidence was admissible," Ames said.

But Fairfield claims a lot was left out of evidence.

According to court documents, now-retired Portland police detective Jim Daniels recently handed over these boxes of case files he's kept at home in his attic.

Evidence that Fairfield says was never disclosed to Sanborn's defense team for trial back in 1992.

Daniels is expected to testify next week but didn't respond to calls from the I-Team.

Fairfield claims the boxes Daniels turned over contain original witness statements, police reports, detailed notes -- even a knife and box-cutter.

There's also a police sketch of a bearded man who witnesses say they saw with Briggs before she was murdered.

The sketch was never publicly released, but Fairfield said it does "not match what Tony Sanborn looked like in May 1989."

Still former prosecutor Ames says she's convinced the right man was convicted.

"Absolutely 100% guilty and that wasn't my job; that was the jury's job. That's what the jury found him beyond a reasonable doubt," Ames said.

A hearing on the evidence is set for Monday in Portland.

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