Docs: Sole witness in '89 slaying was harassed before recanting testimony

Hope Cady

WGME

PORTLAND, Maine -- The sole witness to a brutal 1989 killing on a Portland waterfront changed her testimony about witnessing the crime because she was being hounded relentlessly by a private investigator and defense lawyer over a period of years, prosecutors said. 

Court documents reveal Hope Cady told police she felt threatened and harassed by Tony Sanborn's defense team, and that a private investigator was even following her children at school, CBS affiliate WGME reported.

Sanborn's defense lawyer denies the claim.

"Nobody has threatened or coerced any witnesses in this case on this side of the fence. All we are looking for are the facts to be presented and for the truth to prevail," Amy Fairfield said.

Cady stunned a courtroom in April when she recanted her 1992 trial testimony about seeing Sanborn fatally stab Jessica Briggs. The stunning revelation led to Sanborn being freed on bail after being locked away for 27 years.

The case is getting a new look because of Cady's testimony and questions about the conduct of police and prosecutors in the case.

Justice Joyce Wheeler is convening a hearing next week.

Court records and police reports show Cady claimed Sanborn's defense attorney and a private investigator were following her, texting her and going to her house repeatedly. 

"I feel like I'm backed in a corner," Cady told police.

Prosecutors say she's been subjected to harassment for years, and that she finally changed her testimony just to get her harassers to stop.

Cady's "recent change in testimony ... is the product of pressure and harassment over the course of several years, and in multiple states and locations," prosecutors said in a document filed in Superior Court in Portland.

Fairfield wrote that evidence that she harassed witnesses is "irrelevant and a waste of time." She said, "Nobody threatened her; nobody harassed her; nobody did anything of the sort."