SALEM — Thomas Maimoni, the Salem man convicted of killing artist Martha Brailsford on board his sailboat off Gloucester in 1991 continued to insist yesterday that her death was simply an accident, a claim that left Parole Board members stunned.
"I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone of parole hearings," board member Cesar Archilla told Maimoni, 61. "It's lie after lie after lie. Every statement's a lie."
Referring to Maimoni's claim that he suffers from an "incredulity disorder," Archilla, a former Essex County prosecutor, commented, 'I'm incredulous. I can't believe what I'm hearing ... It's like you live in an alternative reality."
And in that reality, the only way Maimoni can receive treatment for what he claimed was post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the death of Brailsford is by being released from state prison so that he can be admitted to a Veterans Administration hospital in Rhode Island for treatment.
This is Maimoni's second attempt at parole; his first try, in 2006, was unanimously rejected.
Maimoni told the family and friends of Brailsford in the audience that he "takes full responsibility for my decision to place her in harm's way" and admitted that dumping her weighted, naked body overboard was "inhumane and unconscionable."
But that's all he was apologizing for yesterday, continuing to maintain that Brailsford, 37, "was swept from the deck of my boat twice, once by the forces of Mother Nature and the second time a few hours later by my own hand."
Brailsford's father-in-law, Paul Brailsford, a seaman for 17 years, called Maimoni's account "a put-up job." He described how difficult it would be for anyone to pull an unconscious person from the water while also maintaining control of the boat.
Parole Board Chairman Josh Wall, also a former prosecutor, grilled Maimoni on whether he actually understood why he was rejected for parole at his first try in 2006.
Maimoni went into a list of programs the board members asked him about then and said he had signed up for all of them, but continued to avoid answering the question.
Pressed, he admitted that there was a difference "between the Commonwealth's premise and my statement that I did not harm or murder Martha Brailsford."
At several points, he quibbled with board members who cited his testimony, the testimony of witnesses and a transcript from an Appeals Court proceeding.
"What you're asking the Parole Board to do is minimize or disregard the jury's verdict," Wall told Maimoni.
"No, sir," Maimoni responded.
"Yes, you are," Wall said.
Both a jury and an earlier Parole Board have decided "your version is false," said Wall, "and now you're back in the same position, trying to argue that again."
At one point, Wall challenged Maimoni's claim that he avoided intimacy and serious relationships.
"Were you not married four times, sir?" Wall asked.
"Yes, I was," said Maimoni, who tried to cite a biography by the actor Mickey Rooney, married nine times, only to be cut off by Wall.
"Mickey Rooney didn't kill anybody," Wall said.
Maimoni's claims that he did nothing wrong were countered by board members with the testimony offered by two other women he had invited onto his boat, only to make explicit sexual advances. One of the women testified that he sailed naked with a full erection, and another said he had reached into her pants — accounts Maimoni disputed again yesterday.
"That was not part of the trial," he insisted, despite a transcript showing otherwise. "That witness did not take the stand at trial. I was not given an opportunity to defend myself on that."
"You are probably one of the most dangerous persons that have been here before me," Archilla said. "You are a predator in every sense of the word. You couldn't know the truth if it knocked you over."
Wall continued, "The family of Martha Brailsford has not heard you describe what you did to her. You have maintained this preposterous story and ... you say you have remorse. The two things don't go together."
Maimoni was adamant that the five blows to Brailsford's head came from the lobsterman who pulled up her body — a contention easily refuted by the coroner.
The board also took issue with Maimoni's conduct since the slaying, noting that he later mailed a blood-stained pillowcase to the prosecutor on the case, and went on to sue that prosecutor, the lead investigator and two witnesses, as well as his former attorney, Jeff Denner.
Elin Graydon, an assistant district attorney, spoke against his release on behalf of the Essex District Attorney's office.
Brailsford's twin sister, Muriel Conant Garvey, said Maimoni needs to stay locked up.
"I believe Mr. Maimoni is the same person today that he was when he brutally sent her to her death," Garvey said.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or at email@example.com.