The defense for a physician assistant from Londonderry accused of murdering his wife wants to block evidence from his upcoming trial.
Public defender Caitlin Purvin Dunn is objecting to a request from the state Attorney General’s Office to allow testimonial evidence from James Timbas, who allegedly told investigators that William Argie asked him to help kill his wife, Maureen, in exchange for a portion of her life insurance proceeds.
Purvin Dunn also argues that additional evidence alleging that Argie tried to kill himself, then drove to Connecticut, discarded his cellphone and was found gambling at a casino after her death shouldn’t be allowed.
State prosecutors maintain that the evidence is important to show Argie’s motive and consciousness of guilt.
Argie, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree murder and falsification of physical evidence in the death of his 39-year-old wife, whose body was discovered on April 4, 2019, at their Londonderry home.
He is accused of strangling or smothering her and is scheduled to face trial in January 2021 in Rockingham County Superior Court.
In court documents filed last month, state prosecutors outlined potential evidence that points to motive for murder, including alleged financial issues, Argie’s gambling addiction, and threats to kill his wife as their relationship soured and she began planning a divorce.
In court paperwork, Purvin Dunn argues that, among other things, the murder solicitation alleged by the state, for which Argie hasn’t been charged, isn’t relevant to the murder charges.
According to the defense, Timbas described Argie as “heavily intoxicated when the alleged solicitation took place — so much so that Mr. Timbas did not take the alleged solicitation seriously.” Timbas told authorities that he wouldn’t help with the killing, prosecutors said in court documents.
Purvin Dunn also claims that no weapon or method of homicide was discussed that would link the alleged solicitation and the murder charges Argie faces.
Argie isn’t charged with hiring a hitman and is accused of causing the death himself.
Purvin Dunn insists that while prosecutors contend the conversation between Timbas and Argie at a Manchester restaurant in the weeks before the killing revealed his troubled marriage and financial woes, she points out that there’s other evidence that could be introduced that would show the same personal problems.
She also argues that prosecutors haven’t presented clear and convincing evidence that the alleged solicitation actually occurred because Timbas hasn’t been cross-examined about the claims.
Prosecutors maintain that evidence alleging he attempted suicide after the death may show consciousness of guilt, but the defense claims that the evidence is “just as consistent with innocence, as the trauma of discovering a deceased loved one’s body may incite a suicidal reaction,” Purvin Dunn wrote in court documents.
Among other things, she argues that evidence of Argie gambling at a casino also isn’t relevant to the murder charges.
“Gambling addiction is a behavioral or mental health disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. Like a substance use addiction, persons addicted to gambling may engage in gambling as a reaction to trauma. As such, evidence that Mr. Argie was gambling in a casino shortly after Maureen’s death is consistent with innocence — gambling, like suicidality, flight or isolation, can be seen as a response to the trauma of discovering a loved one’s body,” Purvin Dunn wrote.
A judge has not ruled on the state’s motions to allow the evidence.