SKOWHEGAN — A former Fairfield man was sentenced to 55 years in prison Friday for the August 2016 murder of his wife, whose body he buried in a shallow grave behind his parents’ home in Fairfield.

Pictures of murder victim Valerie Tieman are displayed on a projector during the sentencing of Luc Tieman for the murder of his wife, Valerie, at the Somerset County Court House in Skowhegan on Friday. Tieman received 55 years in prison. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for less than an hour April 9 before finding Luc Tieman, 34, guilty of intentional or knowing murder in the death of Valerie Tieman.

Valerie Tieman, who was 34, was shot twice in the head and neck.

Justice Robert Mullen said he was tempted to impose a life sentence, calling Luc Tieman’s testimony during trial “poppycock,” but said he feared that could open the possibility of being reversed in an appeal and forcing both families to endure another round of court hearings. He also noted Tieman’s apparent lack of remorse.

Tieman finally showed emotion in the courtroom Friday, his eyes red, wiping tears away as Allen Harmon, Valerie Tieman’s father, thanked him for his military service, adding that he couldn’t hate him. Harmon told Tieman that he was supposed to have loved and protected his daughter, but instead took her life and turned into a “habitual liar.”

“Murder is the worst kind of theft, because it is something that can’t be returned,” a weeping Harmon said in his impact statement before Justice Mullen, remembering his daughter telling him: “I love you, Daddy.”

Harmon noted that Valerie Tieman’s last name on her gravestone is Harmon — not Tieman.

The Harmons’ victim impact statements, including those by Valerie Tieman’s two brothers and her mother, Sarajean, were accompanied by photos of Valerie Tieman in a slideshow in the courtroom.

“This I will always know. She loved me and I loved her,” Sarajean said in a statement read by victim advocate Joanna Stokinger, noting Valerie Tieman had “stepped into heaven” the minute the first shot had struck her.

“The heartache and grief are real,” she said, adding that she was “overwhelmed with disgust” at what an evil-hearted man Luc Tieman was.

Sarajean asked for a life sentence.

Tieman’s mother, Laurelle, in her impact statement, cited her son’s post-traumatic stress disorder after three combat tours overseas and being wounded and disabled.

Laurelle spoke at length of the “good men” who go off to war, as her son had, and who come back a different person after experiencing “the big horribles” of life on the battlefield.

She said her son was “shrinking … dying before our very eyes” after he returned home from the army. She also cited veteran suicides — 23 such deaths every day.

“This PTSD — it’s real,” she said, noting that she was not making excuses for her son, only asking for consideration and mercy. “These are good men who were hurt and need help, your honor. I ask you to consider the whole life of Luc Tieman. I ask you to consider the whole person and balance justice with mercy.”

During his trial, Tieman admitted to having an affair with another woman, and he was aware that a Waterville woman had sent his wife messages saying that he was cheating on her, but he said he didn’t kill his wife. He said Valerie had died of a drug overdose.

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 faced 25 years to life in prison.

Assistant Attorneys General Leane Zainea and Leanne Robbin, the state prosecutors, sought the sentence of 55 years to the Department of Corrections based on sentencing guidelines and previous cases, such as that of Robert Burton, who was sent to prison for 55 years in December 2017 for killing his girlfriend in 2015.

There is no parole in the state of Maine.

Following sentencing Friday, Zainea and Robbin said they were satisfied with the sentence, noting, as Mullen had, that Tieman will be a old man when and if he ever is released.

They said the Harmon family is happy with the sentence and had opted not to speak to the news media, resting on their statements made Friday in court.

“We’re very pleased with the sentence that was imposed here today,” Zainea told reporters outside the courthouse. “It was the sentence that the state recommended based upon what had transpired during the investigation as well as during the trial.”

Zainea said the judge duly noted that Tieman never took responsibility for the death of his wife and showed no empathy toward the Harmon family.

Robbin added that it was one thing to take police investigators on “a wild goose chase,” but it was quite another to consistently lie to police about everything.

Inside Valerie Tieman’s shallow grave, police, in September 2016, found a Mason jar containing flower stems, Luc Tieman’s 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, or “Luc-e Da Bear.”

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

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.

Statements made Friday by both the Tieman and the Harmon families showed intense emotion, with both sides citing God and prayer as having a hand in the developments as Valerie Tieman’s body was found and her husband was preparing to stand trial for her murder.

Al Tieman, Luc Tieman’s father, cited a psalm expressing his own “valley of tears” for his son, whom he said he would always love.

Contemplating a life sentence for Tieman, Mullen also noted that he had to weigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case. He said there are seven guidelines to follow in order for a life sentence to stand up to appeal, based on a 1990 Law Court case called State vs. Shortsleeves.

They are:

• Premeditation-in-fact;

• Multiple deaths;

• Murder committed by a person who previously has been convicted of homicide or any other crime involving the use of deadly force against a person;

• Murder accompanied by torture, sexual abuse or other extreme cruelty inflicted upon the victim;

• Murder committed in a penal institution by an inmate of that institution;

• Murder of a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties;

• Murder of a hostage.

Mullen said he could not impose a life sentence because none of those seven reasons was present in the Tieman case.

Investigators with the Maine State Police and the Maine Warden Service look for evidence in the death of Valerie Tieman, whose body was found Sept. 20, 2016, buried in a shallow grave behind 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield. The jury forewoman, Rose Gray, commended law enforcement officers for the job they did collecting evidence and investigating the case. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

In his statements to the court Friday, Tieman’s lawyer, Stephen Smith, asked for Mullen to impose a sentence of 35 years, highlighting his client’s combat duty with the Army.

He noted how powerful Allen Harmon’s statements to the court were and even referred to Valerie as “Miss Harmon,” not Mrs. Tieman.

“Luc Tieman did three tours in three combat zones in 10 years and was honorably discharged,” Smith told the judge. “He is not a monster; he’s a human being.”

As the Harmons had done, Smith called Tieman’s family members to give impact statements, including his grandmother Charlene Post, who said she and Luc are close and that he was “always gracious and kind.”

Tieman, who had shown no emotion through all of his five-day trial and final jury verdict, continually drew tissues at the defendant’s table, wiping his eyes and nose.

Smith said they were “very disappointed” with the sentence and that, on Tieman’s behalf, he is appealing both the conviction and the sentence imposed Friday in Somerset County Superior Court.

“We believe his service should have weighed more in the balance,” Smith told reporters.

The murder of Valerie Tieman, Justice Mullen said Friday, boiled down to just one word: Why?

There was no explanation, he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.