"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.
"Under the stress of the situation, I failed," he said, "and I do not believe I should be in charge of another vessel ever." At another point, he pledged: "My sailing days are over."
Board members could barely conceal their feelings, repeatedly asking about instances when, according to trial testimony, he lied to former wives about his education and background, lied to women he met about losing a wife to cancer, and made sexual advances on women aboard his boat.
Walsh asked if the board "could ever trust someone who lies about some very basic things" and then flees when the truth is uncovered. Maimoni fled after Brailsford's body was found; he was captured several days later in a cabin near the Canadian border.
The chairwoman asked Maimoni if he understood how he could be seen as "one of the most manipulative and maniacal (inmates) who has ever been before the parole board" and a "public safety nightmare."
She also asked Maimoni if he understood the damage he was doing to Brailsford's family at the hearing by repeating his "preposterous story."
Maimoni, who had four wives, was also grilled about his relations with women. He said he got along well with them and, for the hearing, even made a list of 21 women he had been close with all the way back to high school. He did concede he had marital problems.
Asked to detail his marriages, he said he had two children with his first wife and then "walked away" from the marriage, split with a second wife after six months, and "ran" from an alcoholic third wife.
"I have a disorder," he said. "I recognize that now."
Some of the toughest questioning was by board member Candace Kochin, who said at one point: "It looks to me as if you have built your life upon lies." At another point, she said: "You say you're not a risk to the community. I don't see that. I see somebody who's not being forthcoming and honest."
After the board finished with Maimoni, several of Brailsford's family members made statements.
Brian Brailsford said only a few words: "I don't think any of us believe Mr. Maimoni's testimony, and we're never going to."
Speaking in a slow, soft voice, Brailsford's twin sister almost seemed as if she was trying to help the board get inside Maimoni.
"There's something about Mr. Maimoni," Muriel Garvey began. "It seems as though his reality is not our reality. ... Artifice has been the foundation of his very existence. ... I don't think he knows himself anymore, what is true and what isn't."
Norma Conant, Brailsford's mother, talked about her daughter, an artist, interior designer and animal lover, and all the good she might have done.
"I had a lovely daughter," the 81-year-old woman said. "She was all you could ask for. ... She always looked for the best in others. Perhaps that was the cause of her demise. ...
"She could have done so much more. ... Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. ... I have to ask myself: Would there have been grandchildren?"
Also urging the board not to release Maimoni were Hooper Goodwin of Marblehead, the lobsterman who found the body, and Margaret Press, the Salem author of a book about the crime, "A Scream on the Water." She said she spent four years researching the case, interviewed Maimoni many times and agreed with doctors that he is a "psychopath."
"Most dangerously, he lacks empathy, he lacks conscience, he is unable ever to take responsibility, or to feel remorse," she said.
Earlier in the hearing, Maimoni volunteered to enter a hospital program as a condition of his release from the state prison in Norfolk.
"I believe I'm a person that needs clinical evaluation," he said.
Nobody spoke in favor of parole. The chairwoman said Maimoni had a "very good" record as a prisoner. A woman identified by parole staff as Maimoni's sister sat silently through the hearing.
After the hearing, one of Brailsford's sisters spoke briefly on her way to her car.
"Fifteen years and nothing has changed," Kerry Kelso said. "We even heard a few more lies, if that's a possibility."