SKOWHEGAN — The defense attorney in the murder trial of a Fairfield man entered a motion Friday after jury selection concluded in Somerset County Superior Court to include an alternative suspect theory as part of his trial defense.

Valerie Tieman

Luc Tieman, 34, is charged with murder in the death of his wife, Valerie Tieman, in 2016 in Fairfield. She was shot twice in the head and neck, according to the autopsy report.

Defense Attorney Stephen Smith entered his motion before Justice Robert Mullen after a jury of eight men and six women, including two alternates, was empaneled after two days of interviews.

The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

Tieman has pleaded not guilty. He said his wife died from a heroin overdose and that he didn’t kill her.

Smith asserted that there are alternative suspects in Valerie Tieman’s death, including one man in particular.

“That gentleman had access; he had motive,” Smith told Mullen, noting that the primary alternative suspect has “a drug history and has had a drug issue.”

Valerie Tieman also was a drug user, Smith said. The autopsy revealed the presence of a synthetic opioid used to treat opioid addiction and another used as a painkiller,

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Zainea, the prosecutor, disagreed with Smith, saying in order to use the alternative suspect theory there must be more than “mere speculation” that someone else might have been involved in Valerie Tieman’s death, and there needs to be a connection to evidence under Maine law.

For evidence regarding alternative suspects, Maine courts will admit evidence if the offered proof is admissible at trial, and if the admissible evidence “is of sufficient probative value to raise a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s culpability” by establishing a reasonable connection between the alternative suspect and the crime.

Smith said his motion meets those demands.

“There is evidence. There is opportunity. There is motive,” Smith said. “Something about a drug dispute between two drug users.”

Mullen said he would take the motion under advisement and would rule before Monday’s opening of the trial.

Smith also offered another motion to exclude from the record Tieman’s use of the words “rebound girl” in reference to a woman in Norridgewock with whom he had an intimate relationship about the same time his wife was reported missing.

Smith said those words were spoken casually and might even be demeaning to women.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who is prosecuting the case with Zainea, said those were the words used by the defendant when he was interviewed by state police detectives, and they should stick.

She said Tieman first told police that both he and Valerie had been staying with the woman, but later changed his story, noting that Valerie had never lived there.

Robbin told Mullen that Luc Tieman had had a relationship with the woman “the night he murdered his wife.”

Mullen said he would take that motion under advisement and report back before trial on Monday.

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 around Aug. 25, 2016. Smith has said his client may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder from being hit by a mortar while serving in combat.

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. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

The jury pool 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.

There were 109 potential jurors in court on Thursday, and 88 more on Friday, all whittled down to the final 14, including two alternates. The final numbers were selected randomly from a box by a court clerk.

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 and smiled at him as he watched her die.

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.

Valerie Tieman’s body was discovered by state police detectives on Sept. 20, 2016, 400 feet from where they had lived with Luc Tieman’s parents at 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield. The body was 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.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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