A former Fairfield man who was sentenced to 55 years in prison last year for the 2016 murder of his wife is appealing his conviction to the state’s highest court.

Luc Tieman, 35, is taking his appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court through his attorney, Clifford Strike, of Portland, challenging emails and Facebook messages that were used as evidence against him during his trial in April in Somerset County Superior Court.

Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard March 5.

Valerie Tieman, who was 34, was shot twice in the head and neck and found buried in a shallow grave behind Luc Tieman’s parents’ home in Fairfield.

Jurors in the murder trial before Justice Robert Mullen needed less than an hour to return with a guilty verdict. In an unusual twist, Tieman had delivered his own closing arguments personally to the trial jury, adamantly denying that he had 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 he who killed Valerie Tieman and that there were “alternative explanations” for 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.”

Luc Tieman

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

He is appealing the guilty verdict.

Strike, who said by phone Wednesday that he is representing Luc Tieman only for the appeal process, said “evidentiary issues” surrounding some emails and Facebook Messenger entries may not have been “properly validated” when presented as evidence against him during the trial.

However, Tieman had said in court that he had made up the story he told police about Valerie disappearing on Aug. 30, 2016, from the Walmart store in Skowhegan.

“I changed my story a lot,” Luc Tieman admitted under oath as he took the stand, against his lawyer’s advice. His trial lawyer, Stephen Smith, no longer represents him.

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.

Valerie Tieman

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.

He admitted having had 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.

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

In 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 jurors made it clear with the speedy verdict that they did not believe Tieman’s ever-changing stories.

Rose Gray, who was the jury forewoman, said in an interview after the trial that Tieman’s testimony “was unbelievable.”

Gray said the fact that Tieman had taken the stand against his lawyer’s advice, appearing confused by his own tangled web of stories, and even delivering closing remarks himself, did not convince the jury of his innocence.

“I listened to every word,” Gray said. “He was always changing his story. He was very unbelievable. Everybody on the jury felt like he knew what was in the burial site before it came out what was in the burial site. He knew what was there. Only the person that did that would know what was buried with her body. All of the jurors agreed on that.”

 

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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