AUGUSTA — A trial of a 55-year-old Albion man facing child pornography charges began Tuesday.

Asher Gifford faces nine counts of possession of sexually explicit materials depicting children under 12.

Five of the counts in the indictment say the offenses occurred around May 11, 2016, in Albion, and the others have a June 20, 2016, date, also in Albion. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Gifford, a slim man with dark hair and a graying beard, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and the jury trial is expected to last three days at the Capital Judicial Center.

On Tuesday, Gifford wore a dark suit with a white shirt and bright blue tie as he sat with his defense attorneys, Elizabeth Gray and Scott Hess. Gifford is not in custody.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan told jurors there would hear about nine images as well as the results of a police search at Gifford’s home and an interview of Gifford by an investigator with the Maine State Police.

In an opening statement for the defense, Gray asked jurors “to keep an open mind and reserve judgment.”

She told the jury of nine women and four men, including two alternates, that in order to prove Gifford guilty, the state has to prove Gifford “intentionally or knowingly” voluntarily possessed the images.

“The images are graphic and disturbing,” she said. “Please set that aside and listen to the evidence.”

Justin Kittredge, a special agent with the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, testified that in May 2016, he saw indications that material exploiting children had been downloaded, and he subpoenaed the Internet service provider to get the physical address of that location.

Kittredge’s testimony was interrupted frequently by requests for sidebars by attorneys. Those requests brought the lawyers for both sides, the court reporter and Justice Robert Mullen into a huddle at the end of the bench farther from the jury, while muffling white noise played over a sound system.

Mullen eventually ruled that Kittredge could testify about how he had obtained the records and what he did with them.

Prior to leaving the witness stand, Kittredge identified a handful of 8.5-by-11 color images as imaged downloaded by the IP address.

The images were not shown to the jury at that point.

Madigan indicated other state police investigators would be testifying in the first couple of days.

In August 2017, a different judge agreed to suppress some statements made by Gifford when he was questioned by police June 20, 2016, the same day they executed a search warrant at his residence on Bog Road in Albion.

Justice Daniel Billings ruled that the prosecution could use evidence seized that day.

However, he also prohibited the use of any remarks Gifford made after he said, “(T)his is probably going to end up costing me time in jail,” and Maine State Police Detective David Armstrong responded by telling Gifford that the offense was a felony.

Billings wrote, “All statements made by the defendant after that point shall be suppressed and may not be admitted against the defendant at trial.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams