SKOWHEGAN — A Fairfield man charged with murder in the death of his wife in 2016 was back in court Monday as his lawyer sought to suppress statements he is alleged to have made to Maine State Police detectives.

Luc Tieman, 34, is charged with knowing or intentional murder related to the death of his wife, Valerie Tieman, who was 34. He pleaded not guilty in November 2016 and remains held without bail at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison as he awaits trial early next year.

Valerie Tieman

The killing is alleged to have happened in August 2016. Prosecutors with the Maine Attorney General’s Office say that Tieman buried his wife’s body in his parents’ backyard and later made up contradictory stories about what happened.

Tieman’s defense attorney, Stephen Smith, said by phone Monday that Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen heard the motion to suppress Monday morning and will rule on it at a later date.

“It’s under advisement,” Smith said.

The murder trial is scheduled for jury selection March 29, 2018, with the trial itself scheduled to follow on April 2.

Smith wrote in his motion to suppress that Tieman was actually in police custody in September 2016 without the benefit of having been read his rights to remain silent under the Miranda rules when he spoke to police. What he is alleged to have said should be suppressed “as involuntarily obtained” in violation of Miranda, Smith wrote.

According to a court affidavit filed by state police Detective Hugh Landry and cited in Smith’s motion to suppress, “Luc initially denied any knowledge of the body, then changed his statement,” saying that Valerie had a drug addiction and that he witnessed her overdose and die.

“Luc said he brought home heroin for Valerie and loaded a needle for her. She took the needle and injected herself. Luc said Valerie smiled at him and then stopped breathing. Luc stated he left her in bed until late at night and then took her outside and dug a trench and buried her.”

According to the autopsy report, Valerie Tieman’s cause of death was “gunshot wounds of head and neck,” and she was “shot by other person(s),” meaning it was not a suicide.

State police Detectives Landry and Christopher Crawford, who both interviewed Luc Tieman during the murder investigation, also were present for Monday’s hearing.

Smith contends that Luc Tieman made the statements to multiple police officers in what “a reasonable person” would perceive to constitute police custody.

In his memorandum of law regarding statements allegedly made to police by Tieman, Smith wrote that there are several factors in determining whether a person is in custody for Miranda purposes.

The court may consider where Tieman was when he made the statements, the existence of probable cause for his arrest, the number of police officers present, Tieman’s perception of his freedom to leave the interview and the duration and character of the interrogation.

When Valerie Tieman’s body was found, it was “clad in damp clothing consisting of brown boots, bright yellow/green socks, a gray T-shirt, blue jeans and a navy shirt,” according to the autopsy report dated Oct. 5.

The report was signed by Clare Bryce, a medical doctor and deputy chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy Sept. 21, the day after the body was found.

Beneath the body was a bag of potato chips, a bottle of perfume and a note that “reportedly has an apologetic tone,” according to investigators.

Valerie Tieman was reported missing Sept. 9, 2016, by her parents, who live in South Carolina, after they had not heard from her for more than two weeks. In interviews with the Morning Sentinel, Tieman’s friends said he had been unfaithful to his wife and sought companionship with other women, telling them his marriage was ending around the time she disappeared.

The murder is alleged to have taken place Aug. 25 – 15 days before her parents reported her missing and five days before Tieman claimed his wife disappeared from the Walmart parking lot in Skowhegan, but he did not report her missing.

Luc Tieman initially told police she disappeared from his pickup truck outside Walmart in Skowhegan but later said she died of a drug overdose.