SKOWHEGAN — Luc Tieman sat quietly Thursday afternoon in the judge’s chambers as Justice Robert Mullen questioned potential jurors, one by one, some of whom will be empaneled for Tieman’s murder trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday in Somerset County Superior Court.

Tieman; his lawyer, Stephen Smith; and Assistant Attorneys General Leanne Zainea and Leanne Robbin pored over questionnaires from just under half of the original jury pool of 109 people. The other half was released earlier in the day after defense and prosecution attorneys examined questionnaires filled out by each prospective juror.

Valerie Tieman

Both sides wanted jurors who were not swayed by media coverage of the 2016 disappearance of Tieman’s wife, Valerie Tieman, in August 2016. Her body was found later, buried behind Luc Tieman’s parents’ house in Fairfield.

She had been shot twice in the head.

Luc Tieman, dressed in a gray-green coat and tie in chambers Thursday, is charged with her murder. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

He has pleaded not guilty.


Jury selection got underway Thursday morning and will continue Friday with a new batch of possible jurors in the morning and final jury selection at 1 p.m.

Luc Tieman, 34, a disabled Army veteran, is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death of his wife, who was 34. Police think the woman was murdered on or about Aug. 25, 2016.

Mullen, absent the black judicial robe, spoke to each potential juror in chambers, a small office off the corridor of Superior Court. The room has a brick fireplace with birch logs in it and a wooden mantel with personal photos, an hourglass and a mock gavel on it. Law books line shelves, and there is baseball memorabilia on the wall.

The jury pool Thursday morning was shown videos explaining the importance of a trial by jury. Potential jurors are selected randomly from Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicle rosters and given to the court system. They were told that once the trial begins, they must make a decision of guilt or innocence based solely on the evidence presented. Their determination must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jury selection involves a two-step process called “voir dire,” Latin for “to say what is true,” Mullen explained. The first step is a general review using the questionnaires. The second step is speaking to each candidate individually to discover whether any of them know the parties involved or any witnesses who might be called to testify or are familiar with the case at hand.

In the privacy of the judge’s chambers, each potential juror — called by number, not by name — was spoken to individually.


Based on their answers on the questionnaires distributed earlier in the day, jurors were asked questions about their ability to preside over the trial. The two main questions covered whether reports in newspapers, television, radio and social media would affect their impartiality and if an extended trial and the investment of time in it would be a hardship on them.

Many said they had heard the story of Valerie Tieman, some remembering reported details that included her body being found in a shallow grave 400 feet behind the house on Norridgewock Road in Fairfield.

A court reporter typed away on a stenotype machine, recording every word while a court clerk collected the finished questionnaires. Most of the potential jurors told Mullen they knew of the story, but would not be convinced of guilt or innocence until they heard all of the evidence in the case.

“People share it on social media and it goes viral quick,” one potential juror said.

“Everybody on social media has assumptions,” another said.

Mullen said the trial, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday in Skowhegan, could last five days, but he also has set aside the week of April 9 in case it goes longer.


The murder is alleged to have taken place 15 days before Valerie Tieman’s parents reported her missing on Sept. 9, 2016, and five days before Tieman claimed his wife disappeared from the Walmart parking lot in Skowhegan. Video footage from surveillance cameras at Walmart did not show Tieman’s truck at the store on any day from Aug. 21, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2016.

He did not report her missing.

Luc Tieman later said she died of a drug overdose.

According to the autopsy report, Valerie Tieman’s cause of death was gunshot wounds to head and neck — by someone else, meaning it was not a suicide. A police affidavit says she was shot twice.

Investigators with the Maine State Police and Maine Warden’s Service look for evidence in the death of Valerie Tieman, whose body was found Sept. 20, 2016, in the woods behind 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield.

Evidence of controlled substances also were found in Valerie Tieman’s system, according to a toxicology report that accompanied the autopsy report. They include Buprenorphine, a schedule III synthetic opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction. Buprenorphine can be dispensed for take-home use by prescription, according to a website called The National Alliance of Advocates of Buprenorphine Treatment.

The autopsy also found the presence of Tramadol, a synthetic opioid painkiller that is frequently prescribed to manage moderate to severe levels of pain, such as that experienced after surgery or in chronic conditions such as arthritis.


Valerie Tieman’s body was discovered by state police detectives on Sept. 20, 2016, wrapped in a blanket with a bag of potato chips, a bottle of perfume and a note that reportedly had an “apologetic tone,” according to the autopsy report.

Luc Tieman served in Iraq and reportedly suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Valerie Tieman’s body was found, it was “clad in damp clothing consisting of brown boots, bright yellow/green socks, a grey T-shirt, blue jeans and a navy shirt,” according to the autopsy report, which is dated Oct. 5. The report was signed by Clare Bryce, a medical doctor and deputy chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy Sept. 21, the day after Tieman’s body was found.

Sept. 21 also is the day that Luc Tieman was arrested and charged with murdering Valerie and burying her about 400 feet from where they had lived with his parents at 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield.

A detective with the state police Cell Phone Analysis Unit determined that the last call Valerie Tieman made to Luc Tieman was on Aug. 24, 2016.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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