SKOWHEGAN — The first question Luc Tieman’s attorney asked him as he took the stand Friday afternoon was “Luc, did you kill your wife?”

Tieman answered, “No.”

Valerie Tieman

But when it came to cross-examination by the prosecution, he appeared confused, admitting some stories he had told since August 2016 were made up.

“I changed my story a lot,” he admitted under oath.

The state rested its case Friday against Tieman. Tieman has pleaded not guilty to the crime of knowing or intentional murder in the 2016 shooting death of his wife, Valerie Tieman, and faces 25 years to life in prison if he is found guilty.

A defense request for acquittal was denied. The defense then rested.


The jury will get the case for deliberations after closing arguments by the defense and prosecuting attorneys beginning at 9 a.m. Monday.

Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen, the presiding judge in the trial, advised Tieman before he took the stand Friday afternoon that he had the right to remain silent and that no inference would be made if he chose not to testify.

His lawyer, Stephen Smith, told the judge that his client would testify “over my repeated and strenuous advice not to take the stand.”

Tieman, his thinning hair tousled atop his head, said he had made up the story of Valerie disappearing from the Skowhegan Walmart store on Aug. 30, 2016. He said he did so to save her parents the worry of their daughter going off with another man to do drugs. If she came back, it would make her look bad, he said.

That part of the story was made up, too, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea pressed, aggressively at times and appearing to lose patience with Tieman.

“You knew when you made up that story that Valerie was buried in your backyard,” Zainea said to him.


“No,” Tieman answered.

The killing is alleged to have taken place Aug. 25, 2016 — 15 days before Valerie’s parents reported her missing and five days before Tieman claimed his wife had disappeared from the Skowhegan Walmart, although he did not report her missing.

Zainea noted that after a pool party in Waterville on Aug. 24, 2016, he had sex in a Norridgewock park with the woman he told police was his “rebound girl” after Valerie had left him. He moved in with her two days later after the two of them had exchanged photos of their naked bodies, Zainea said.

Tieman said he sent only pictures of his genitalia to the woman, Billi-Jo Hawes, because he had felt an obligation to her after she had first sent him pictures.

“You felt obligated to send a picture of your genitalia?” Zainea asked, incredulous, stressing the word “obligated” as if underlining it.

“It was wrong,” Tieman replied.


The prosecutor also brought up the note found by investigators in Valerie’s grave bearing the nickname for Tieman — Luc-e Bear — and his name for Valerie — Joy Joy. Other notes found in Valerie’s personal items also contained those words.

Tieman said that after Valerie’s autopsy showed she had been shot twice in the head and neck, he wanted it to appear that he was cooperating with state police detectives under questioning in order to placate them and to get his parents freed from them, when, in fact, police were not holding them.

When Zainea showed him a wedding ring police found in Valerie’s grave, he said it looked like his and asked if he could try it on.

Zainea appeared to ignore the request.

Friday morning state police detectives, in audio recordings with Luc Tieman in September 2016 played in court, could be heard saying they knew how his wife, Valerie Tieman, died. They knew approximately when she died and where she was buried.

But there was one unanswered question.


“It always comes back to why,” Detective Jason Andrews is heard saying to Tieman as they rode with another detective, Joshua Birmingham, to the Somerset County Jail in East Madison on Sept. 21, 2016, the day he was arrested on a charge that he had murdered his wife. “We don’t have those answers. You do.”

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.

Valerie Tieman’s body was found buried the previous day in a shallow grave behind Luc Tieman’s family’s house in Fairfield. She was 34.

Tieman told police that Valerie had died of a heroin overdose. He admits to burying the body, but not to the murder.

The autopsy report shows that Valerie had drugs in her system, but there was no heroin.

Tieman contends that his wife died in their bed after injecting herself with heroin and that he buried her. He did not account for the two bullet wounds.

“How does she get a bullet in her head?” the detective asks. “It just doesn’t add up. We want to know why Valerie is where she is and why it happened.”


The state brought witnesses from the state crime laboratory to the stand Friday morning. They described for the jury the process of gaining DNA and fingerprint evidence for the case. Markings on a bullet fragment taken from the autopsy matched the rifling and grooves from a .45-caliber pistol found in the Tieman home.

Ross London, the manager of the Winslow Gun Shop, also was called to the stand Friday. He testified that Luc Tieman had purchased a .45-caliber Citadel pistol from the shop in 2015 and had signed all the necessary paperwork for the purchase.

Police have said they recovered such a weapon from the Tieman residence during their search of the house.

Tieman’s defense attorney, Stephen Smith, tried to divert attention Thursday from his client to Tieman’s brother, Sam Tieman, as someone who could have killed Valerie Tieman.

Sam Tieman, now 28, was working construction in August 2016 at Sugarloaf, just 90 minutes from the Tieman home he shared with his parents and Luc and Valerie, Smith told the jury of eight men and six women. The tools allegedly used to dig Valerie’s shallow grave were Sam’s tools. He operated a landscaping business, had a history of drug use and had taken drugs — injecting the narcotic Percocet — with his brother and his wife, Smith noted.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin dismissed the insinuation, noting that Sam didn’t have a license to drive and went to work at the mountain for the entire week, driven there by his boss. The tools were in an unlocked shed on the Tieman property.


“Everybody had access to those tools,” Robbin said.

State police Sgt. Kyle Willette later Thursday played a PowerPoint presentation about cellphones that lasted well into the afternoon, with cellphone records of calls made to Luc Tieman by women, and calls by him to them.

Valerie’s disappearance from the Skowhegan Walmart is among the police investigators’ “list of lies,” which also includes stories of camping sites he and Valerie had visited, the drug overdose death and Valerie’s “other man,” police have said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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