If you’re considering committing a murder in Maine, you should act quickly.
Pulling the trigger before the state decides to hire a new chief medical examiner means your case will be investigated by Maine’s current M.E., Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, whose resume is something of a defense attorney’s dream.
Flomenbaum has been in the news lately after he abruptly changed his mind about the circumstances of the 2016 killing of Alicia Gaston of Windham. The good doctor had originally concluded, following an autopsy, that the fatal bullet fired by her husband, Noah, entered Gaston’s body at an angle indicating she was near the top of the darkened stairs in her home. That put Flomenbaum’s findings at odds with Noah’s story, which was that his wife was at the bottom of the stairway, and he thought she was an intruder.
On the day Noah Gaston’s trial began, prosecutors notified the court that Flomenbaum had examined a photograph of the wound he had somehow previously overlooked, and decided the angle could have been consistent with Alicia being farther down the stairs than he had previously stated. The judge granted the defendant a mistrial, although he’ll likely be retried.
This isn’t the first notable screw-up in the Flomenbaum file. He was fired as chief medical examiner of Massachusetts in 2007 after his office lost track of a corpse that was supposed to be autopsied, as well as the discovery of rampant disarray in his department. Nevertheless, he got a gig in Maine as deputy M.E. in 2013 and was promoted to the chief’s job in 2014 by Gov. Paul LePage, never one to be overly concerned about incompetence (see Mayhew, Mary).
Although Flomenbaum is earning a salary-and-benefits package in Maine worth $260,000 a year, he also ran his own consulting business on the side, appearing as an expert witness at trials in other states.
In 2016, he testified for the defense in a Connecticut murder case, concluding that a 3-year-old girl had not been beaten to death as the state alleged, but had died of natural causes that just happened to resemble a severe bludgeoning. The judge in that case ruled Flomenbaum’s convoluted explanation less than believable.
You might think your lawyer could use this stuff to discredit any medical evidence Flomenbaum presented against you, but for some twisted reason, Maine courts have thus far refused to allow such disparaging information to be presented during trials. Fortunately, the court of public opinion has less stringent rules, so I’m allowed to offer the aforementioned facts for your consideration.
Not that I expect they’ll make much difference.
Gov. Janet Mills should have known for some time that Flomenbaum had a questionable record. When Mills was attorney general, she received a letter from a Connecticut prosecutor detailing the doctor’s insipid testimony in the child-death case. After the Gaston mistrial, her spokesman first said she was unaware Flomenbaum was moonlighting. Then, he said the criminal division of the A.G.’s office knew about it, but never told Mills. Then, the story shifted to she did know, but wasn’t aware of the details. When the letter from Connecticut surfaced, the spokesman claimed Mills didn’t recall seeing it, because why would anyone remember a credible report that indicated your medical examiner was not the sharpest scalpel on the autopsy tray.
In this particular murder case, the victim is the truth.
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