, Salem, MA

Local News

October 11, 2006

Murder convict:'I'm sorry' Thomas Maimoni assailed for 'preposterous' explanation of crime, life 'built on lies'

The family and friends of murder victim Martha Brailsford left yesterday's parole hearing emotionally exhausted but convinced that convicted killer Thomas Maimoni won't be released from prison anytime soon.

"He's not going anywhere - there's not the slightest doubt in my mind," Brian Brailsford, husband of the late Salem woman, said at the conclusion of a two-hour hearing before the Massachusetts Parole Board in Natick. The board is expected to announce a ruling in six to eight weeks.

This was the first parole hearing for Maimoni, 62, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1993.

Fifty people jammed the hearing room yesterday, including many family members and Salem Willows neighbors, to hear Maimoni explain why he should be released after 15 years in state prison. The former married Parker Brothers engineer befriended Brailsford in the summer of 1991 while walking their dogs, told her his wife had died of cancer, and then took her sailing. She never returned.

The body of the 37-year-old woman was found six days later entangled in a lobster trap off Marblehead, a weight belt around her waist and an anchor around one foot.

During an opening statement and in response to questions from the parole board, Maimoni repeated much of the testimony he gave at trial - that Brailsford struck her head and fell overboard in a tragic accident after his boat was hit by a rogue wave. She wound up naked, he said, because he took off her clothes to treat her for hypothermia.

Despite tough questioning by the board, he refused to admit he had any role in Brailsford's death other than failing in his duties as a sailor, panicking and disposing of her body at sea.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions ... the result of which was the death of Martha Brailsford," Maimoni said as he sat at a small table a few feet from the parole board, dressed in jeans, a black shirt and white sneakers. He said he acted in a "disgraceful manner" when he panicked and dumped her weighted body overboard.

Later, he said: "To Martha's family, I'm sorry. ... I'm sorry for myself, too, for my actions, decisions I made. ... I can only ask the panel to consider my being evaluated to find the answers. ... I am sorry."

Maimoni looked much as he did at the 1993 trial, except that his once black hair and mustache were now gray. He was shackled at the feet and had on handcuffs, which he asked to have removed so he could turn the pages of his typed opening statement. Correctional officers refused to unlock the handcuffs but assisted him with his papers.

Maimoni's responses to questions were sometimes rambling and, in one case, almost startling. When Chairwoman Maureen Walsh asked why he deserved to be released back into society, Maimoni said he would give up sailing.

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