Jury selection begins Monday in the murder trial of Derek Poulin, who is accused of bludgeoning and stabbing his grandmother to death and setting fire to her body in her Old Orchard Beach home in 2012.

Poulin, 26, has undergone numerous psychological exams since his arrest on Oct. 29, 2012, less than a week after the burned body of his grandmother, Patricia Noel, 61, was found in the bedroom of her burning home at 44 Wesley Ave.

Although Poulin has been evaluated by psychologists at least four times, including a commitment at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, lawyers do not seem to be making his mental health a key factor in the jury selection process. None of the questions being presented to a pool of about 200 prospective jurors on a questionnaire form mentions mental health.

Because the pool of prospective jurors is so large, jury selection has been scheduled over two days in York County Superior Court in Alfred. Opening statements by the lawyers on either side will begin Wednesday morning, said Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, one of two prosecutors in the case.

The jury selection process is complicated by fire safety code limitations inside the courthouse building. For decades, prospective jurors in York County trials were assembled in the basement of the historic building in the center of Alfred, but the State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted its first inspection of the building in January and found the basement to be unfit for crowds of more than 50 because it has only one exit and no sprinkler system.

Since the fire marshal’s inspection report was issued on Jan. 30, courthouse staff has been limited to keeping large jury pools in the second-floor courtroom, which has seating for 110 people.


The head clerk of the court, Tamara Rueda, said that to comply with the fire code limitations, half of the prospective jurors will be brought in during the morning for instructions and to complete the questionnaire, followed by the second half in the afternoon. The attorneys will then determine which jurors to call back Tuesday for further selection, she said.

One of Poulin’s attorneys, Amy Fairfield, said as many as 75 witnesses may be called during the trial by either the prosecution or the defense, according to preliminary witness lists submitted by both sides. So the trial is expected to last all of this week and perhaps the entire week next week.

Firefighters found Noel’s burnt body inside her bedroom on the afternoon of Oct. 23, 2012, and did not immediately notice that she had stab wounds on her left arm and left side of her neck. Investigators later learned from a doctor who conducted an autopsy on Noel’s body that she had no soot or evidence of smoke inhalation in her throat, indicating she was dead before the fire began, according to an affidavit that Maine State Police filed in court seeking a warrant for Poulin’s arrest.

Noel died from multiple blunt impact injuries to the head, skull fractures and multiple stab wounds, the affidavit said. Police found a golf club handle and shaft, a golf club head, a wrench and a knife with a 3-inch blade in the shower connected to the bedroom where her body was found, state police Detective Scott Harakles said in the affidavit.

A “red brown stain” found on one of Poulin’s boots matched Noel’s DNA profile, as did a swab of the wrench found in the shower, Harakles wrote.

Poulin lived with his grandmother and his father, Reginald Poulin, at his grandmother’s house. Poulin’s aunt, Darcy Daniels, said after Noel’s death that Noel was upset with Poulin for not working, not contributing to the household and for his lack of motivation.


In the weeks before she was killed, Noel described having been physically and emotionally abused by Poulin, saying he had called her names, blown cigarette smoke in her face and “gotten physical” with her, the affidavit said.

Poulin has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and arson. He has been held without bail since his arrest.

If convicted, he faces from 25 years to life in prison for murder and up to 30 years in prison for arson.


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