AUGUSTA — On a recording made by a state police detective 10 months ago, Justin Pillsbury initially refuses to answer questions from his hospital bed.

The next day, however, he tells the same detective, Christopher Tremblay, of the Maine State Police, that he killed his girlfriend, Jillian T. Jones.

Tremblay testified about those two interviews and recordings Tuesday at a hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Pillsbury’s attorney, James T. Lawley, wants those statements kept out of any trial, saying Pillsbury was not advised of his rights properly and that he was too sedated after surgery to think properly.

Pillsbury, 39, was indicted last January on a charge of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder in the stabbing death of Jones, 24, on Nov. 13, 2013, in his Augusta apartment. Pillsbury, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge and remains in custody, sat next to Lawley at the defense table and listened to the testimony Tuesday. He did not testify at the hearing.

At the end of the testimony, Justice Michaela Murphy gave the attorneys several weeks to file oral arguments and indicated she would rule later. A trial date for Pillsbury has yet to be set.


Jones, who grew up in Bingham, was attending beauty school in Waterville at the time of her death. Friends and family gathered for a candelight vigil shortly after her death, recalling a sweet and loving person who liked to dance and laugh.

In the courtroom Tuesday, the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman, played the entire recording of the Nov. 14, 2013, interview.

On the recording made at Pillsbury’s bedside, Tremblay can be heard introducing himself and asking Pillsbury how he feels.

“I’m not feeling too good,” Pillsbury says in a hoarse voice. He had just had surgery to repair apparently self-inflicted stab wounds to his neck.

Then Tremblay reads Pillsbury a Miranda warning outlining his rights.

Pillsbury acknowledges he understands them, saying at one point, “It means I don’t have to answer the questions if I don’t want to.”


After being told he could get the assistance of a lawyer, Pillsbury said, “That’s probably what I’m going to do.”

Tremblay then asks him, “Would you like to answer questions at this time?”

“No, sir,” Pillsbury responds.

Tremblay and fellow Maine State Police Detective Jonah O’Roak left the room, telling Pillsbury they would leave a card with the nurse in case he changed his mind about speaking to them.

The second recording is from the following day. The detectives return to Pillsbury’s room at MaineGeneral Medical Center as he is in the process of being discharged from the hospital.

At the time, Pillsbury, whose voice is closer to a whisper, agrees to answer some questions, and Tremblay recites the Miranda rights again.


When Pillsbury’s attorney Lawley asked Tremblay whether he again told Pillsbury he was not under arrest, Tremblay testified, “I guess I did not.” He testified that Pillsbury appeared relaxed and calm.

Murphy said she would listen to the remainder of the 90-minute recording in chambers rather than in the courtroom.

Tremblay also testified that partway through the second interview and after Pillsbury confessed to killing Jones, he learned that someone with the Office of the Attorney General said Pillsbury should be arrested on his release from the hospital and brought to the Kennebec County jail.

Tremblay testified that Pillsbury was cleared medically and apparently had been given a mental health assessment before his discharge. Tremblay indicated he had learned that Pillsbury told ambulance personnel that he wanted to die.

Tremblay said he took Pillsbury to the jail but did not handcuff him, given that one hand was in a cast.

At one point, Pillsbury asked Tremblay to turn off the recorder and inquired whether a deal could be made because he didn’t want to go to trial.


Tremblay also said a defense lawyer went to the hospital and spoke briefly with Pillsbury before he was discharged. It was not clear from testimony Tuesday whether Lawley was that attorney.

Augusta police Detective Tori Tracy testified Tuesday that she was called to Pillsbury’s 32 Crosby St. apartment to help investigate a murder-suicide or double homicide. She said her role was to photograph the scene and interview witnesses from surrounding apartments.

She said she went to the hospital after learning that Pillsbury was talking to medical personnel and saying that he had done something “to his girl.” However, she said she did not talk to Pillsbury because he was sedated before being taken to an operating room.

She said she and two Maine State Police officers saw him briefly in the operating room after surgery, but she did not see any officers try to talk to him at the time. Tracy testified that all three officers were wearing medical garb that covered their firearms and badges.

Family members of Jones watched Tuesday’s hearing, some holding hands as detectives described their actions after the discovery of her body. One man left as Tremblay talked about having notified Pillsbury of his rights. Jones’ mother has declined to speak to the press.

In March, a judge ordered MaineGeneral Medical Center to turn over to the court medical records about Pillsbury’s treatment at the Augusta hospital immediately after Jones was killed.


Lawley, in one motion to the court, asked that the indictment be dismissed or at least that bail be reviewed, saying the state has taken too long to process evidence in the case.

Last month, the state won a judge’s permission to take Pillsbury’s fingerprints and palm prints over a defense objection. Cashman said the prints were needed because “at the time the initial search warrant was executed, the defendant had a cast on his right hand and his left index finger was bandaged as a result of injuries suffered at the time of the homicide.

When police and other emergency responders arrived at the apartment on the night of Nov. 13, they found Jones dead in the bathroom and Pillsbury unconscious with stab wounds to his neck. A third roommate, Michael St. Pierre, called 911, telling dispatchers that it appeared two people were dead. “There’s blood all over my apartment everywhere,” he said in the transcript of the call. St. Pierre later told police he had been out earlier that night and discovered the grisly scene when he returned.

An affidavit by Tremblay filed in the case says Pillsbury told St. Pierre he had caught Jones talking on the phone to another man and was jealous.

Another neighbor reported hearing arguing and Jones screaming that evening, according to Tremblay’s affidavit.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

Comments are no longer available on this story