SKOWHEGAN — Luc Tieman was quickly found guilty Monday of murdering his wife after a jury of seven men and five women deliberated for less than an hour before returning with a verdict.

Tieman, 34, showed no noticeable emotion as he stood with his attorneys to face the jury before Justice Robert Mullen in Somerset County Superior Court.

Valerie Tieman

He faces 25 years to life in prison now that he’s been convicted of killing his wife, Valerie Tieman, with two gunshots to the head and neck in August 2016, and burying her body behind his parents’ home in Fairfield.

After the verdict was read Monday, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea hugged Valerie Tieman’s parents, Allen and Sarajean Harmon, who live in South Carolina and testified on the first day of the trial. The jury forewoman also hugged them, as Allen Harmon wept.

“We’re thankful that justice was served,” Allen Harmon told reporters in a chilly wind outside the courthouse. “The truth finally prevailed and came out. As Christians, we trust the Lord, and we gave it to him from the night we found out that she was missing and he’s brought us through and given us the peace that passes all understanding.”

Sarajean Harmon seemed to share her husband’s peace, knowing that they would meet their daughter again someday in Heaven.

“I’m Valerie’s mom,” she said. “We loved her very much. We miss her and as far as Luc is concerned — he did have other options — he could have come home and she’d still be alive today.”

Family members of Valerie Tieman speak about the guilty verdict that her husband, Luc Tieman, received in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan on Monday. Valerie’s parents Sarajen and Allen Harmon, front, and her brother Greg speak with reporters. Staff photo by David Leaming

Earlier in the courtroom Monday, in an unusual twist, Tieman had personally delivered his own closing arguments to the trial jury, adamantly denying that he killed “my beautiful wife.”

Tieman, speaking to the jury, was disjointed in his remarks and at times made references that were not previously brought forward as evidence during testimony at trial. He appealed to the jury’s “common sense,” saying it could not have been him that killed Valerie Tieman and that there were “alternative explanations” too much of what the state produced as evidence against him.

“The state is accusing me of murdering my beautiful wife, Valerie Tieman, which I didn’t do,” Tieman told the jury. “It would have helped if they could show a motive.”

The jury didn’t believe him, returning with a guilty verdict in about 50 minutes.

COMING TO GRIPS

In her closing argument to the jury, Zainea asked rhetorically three times: “Who killed Valerie Tieman?”

Luc Tieman, right, and his attorney, Stephen Smith, listen to closing arguments in the trial for the murder of Valerie Tieman in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan on Monday. Staff photo by David Leaming

“Your only conclusion, your only verdict is that he is guilty of murder,” she said of Luc.

The jury got the case just after noontime Monday following closing arguments.

The state rested its case Friday against Tieman, who had pleaded not guilty to the crime of knowing or intentional murder in the 2016 shooting death of his wife. A defense request for acquittal was denied.

Tieman said in court Friday that he had made up the story of Valerie’s disappearing from the Skowhegan Walmart store on Aug. 30, 2016.

“I changed my story a lot,” Luc Tieman admitted under oath Friday, as he took the stand against his lawyer’s advice.

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, Zainea said.

“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 believed 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.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea holds a photo of Luc Tieman with the blanket that covered his wife Valerie after police found her in a shallow grave while giving closing statements in the trial for the murder of Valerie Tieman in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan on Monday. Staff photo by David Leaming

Valerie’s “little brother,” Greg Harmon, 29, said outside the courthouse Monday that his birthday — Aug. 25 — will forever be remembered as the day his sister was murdered by Luc Tieman.

“It’s sad that this has happened; I haven’t really seen my sister since I joined the military in 2013 because of all of this,” he said. “But I know I’ll see her again, so that kind of takes a little bit of the sting away.”

Greg Harmon said the past couple of years has been like a rollercoaster ride, with some ups and a lot of downs.

“It’s been a two-year process and I think that’s also why we’re able to put on a little bit braver face than normal because we’ve already come to grips with the tragedy of everything,” he said.

Emily Fournier speaks about Valerie Tieman after Luc Tieman was found guilty of her murder in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan on Monday. Fournier, a friend of Valerie’s, was the director of the Recycled Shakespeare Theatre Co. and acted on stage with her. Staff photo by David Leaming

He said it’s not difficult now to look at Tieman as he faced a murder charge because “everyone is going to get their’s eventually — be it this life or the next … justice always prevails at the end of the day.”

Emily Fournier, a friend of Valerie’s who was the director of the Recycled Shakespeare Theatre Co. and acted on stage with her, said outside the courthouse Monday that Valerie was a lovely woman “who lit up the room when she entered.”

“She will be sorely missed,” Fournier said.

A STRONG CASE

In her closing Monday morning, Zainea went back over all the evidence presented during five days of witness testimony and evidence last week. 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.

He admitted to having an affair with another woman and he was aware that a Waterville woman had sent Valerie messages saying that her husband was cheating on her.

Drugs were found in Valerie Tieman’s body during an autopsy performed Sept. 21, 2016, but the drugs did not kill her. Two gunshot wounds to the head and neck were the cause of death, according to a state medical examiner.

Tieman’s trial began a week ago in Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan.

Defense attorney Stephen Smith speaks with media following guilty verdict of his client, Luc Tieman, who was convicted of murdering Valerie Tieman. Staff photo by David Leaming

Exiting the courthouse Monday afternoon, both Smith, Tieman’s court-appointed lawyer, and Zainea, the state prosecutor, said they had not ever seen a case in which the defendant had delivered his own closing argument.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” Smith said. “There was no forensic evidence. There was no DNA. There were no fingerprints. We’re very disappointed in the verdict and we intend to appeal.”

Smith said Luc Tieman had a Constitutional right to give his own closing, as he had to take the stand on Friday and he said he would not second-guess his client on those decisions. Tieman took the stand Friday against Smith’s advice.

Smith said he could not discuss what Tieman had to say following the guilty verdict.

“My client says he didn’t kill his wife — he testified to that and we intend to appeal,” Smith said, adding that sentencing is set for some time in mid-May.

The defense did not call any witnesses during the five-day trial, other than Tieman, who steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Inside Valerie Tieman’s shallow grave, police, in September 2016, found a Mason jar containing flower stems, a wedding band and a handwritten note on an index card.

The note opened with the words “To my one and only Joy-Joy. Flower. Forever.”

The words in the note read: “I love you Valerie Joy T. I’ll love you forever. Rest in peace. My heart in Jesus,” with an X and an O, “hugs,” exclamation points, and an apparent reference to Luc Tieman’s marriage nickname “Luc-e” the bear.

The grave note contained language similar to that in other notes found among Valerie Tieman’s possessions taken from the Tieman home at 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield that September.

Valerie Tieman’s body was found wrapped in an orange, black and white blanket with the Mason jar “near her head.”

Under the body, police found a potato chip bag, a box of SweeTarts candy, a plaid shirt, a blue-and-gold woven knit hat and a bottle of Gucci cologne or perfume called Guilty.

Zainea, who with Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin prosecuted the case, said the jury made it clear with the speedy verdict that they did not believe Tieman’s ever-changing stories.

“The state’s very pleased; we are happy with the verdict the jury rendered today,” Zainea told reporters. “We believed we always had a strong case that Luc Tieman was the murderer of his wife Valerie.”

Robbin added that for a defendant to conduct his own closing remarks is “unusual in any case, not just a murder case.”

Zainea added that she, too, was surprised when Tieman stood to address the jury himself, considering that there are experienced defense attorneys, like Smith, who specializes in criminal trials. She said the speed at which the jury returned from deliberations was testament to “just how overwhelming” the evidence was against Tieman.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow