ALFRED — Patricia Noel was stabbed so many times that the blade of the knife bent, beaten so many times with a golf club that the head broke off, and bludgeoned with a crescent wrench with such force that her skull was dented in the shape of the tool.

A prosecutor gave those details for jurors at the start of the murder trial of Derek Poulin, who is accused of killing his grandmother in her Old Orchard Beach home Oct. 23, 2012, and setting her body and the house on fire.

“In total, she was stabbed more than 70 times,” Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said in her opening statement at the trial in York County Superior Court.

Zainea asked jurors to use common sense to decide that Poulin killed 61-year-old Noel and set her on fire because his claim that he was not in the house at the time of the murder doesn’t match what he told police, and because Noel’s DNA was found on his left boot.

But Poulin’s attorney, Amy Fairfield, told the jurors that police who investigated Noel’s death conducted a “sloppy and compromised investigation” that did not look into other possible explanations for what happened.

“This is an investigation that seriously looked at only one suspect,” Fairfield said.

Fairfield said Poulin left his grandmother’s house, where he and his father lived, around 11:30 on the morning of her death in his car and ran errands in Portland.

“This death was bloody and gory, and I do not contest that,” Fairfield said. “But there was no conclusive blood in the car, and it was tested.”


Poulin, 26, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and arson. He has remained in custody since his arrest on Oct. 29, 2012.

Fairfield told Justice John O’Neil Jr. before the start of the trial that she planned to name Poulin’s father, Reginald Poulin, as an alternate suspect for jurors to consider. But the judge initially ruled Wednesday that she couldn’t do so unless she could demonstrate that evidence would be presented at trial that would give that argument some validity.

To allow Fairfield a chance to test her planned argument, the judge told the attorneys that he wants Reginald Poulin to appear in court Friday. O’Neil assigned an uninvolved attorney, Molly Butler Bailey, to represent him.

But another prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, told O’Neil on Thursday afternoon after the jury was out of the room that Reginald Poulin has not cooperated with authorities. The judge responded that if Reginald Poulin did not comply with a subpoena to appear, he would take measures to get him into court.

More than 75 people are listed as witnesses for a trial that is expected to continue into next week.

Fire investigator Daniel Young, who works for the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office, said he and other investigators who first examined the scene at 44 Wesley Ave. initially worked under the possibility that she may have started the fire by smoking a cigarette in bed.

Young said Noel’s body was “burned severely” and that investigators could not initially tell that she had been killed before the fire was set.

Caleigh Mills, who lived across the street from Noel and reported the fire, was the first witness to testify.

Mills said she called 911 shortly after 2 p.m. that day after hearing a smoke alarm and going over to the window of the house to look in.

“I could see the blinds were drooping due to intense heat,” Mills said. “I could see smoke actually coming from the top of the window.”


The first two Old Orchard Beach firefighters to arrive, Dale Stout and Donald Pelletier, testified next.

The smoke inside was thick, forcing Stout and Pelletier to crawl after first breaking the front door to unlock it, entering the living room and advancing with a hose to the source of the fire in the bedroom.

“After, I knocked out the rest of the fire over here and noticed the victim,” Pelletier said, using a diagram of the house to show jurors. “I checked for life. There was none.”

Investigator Kenneth MacMaster of the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office testified that Reginald Poulin arrived at the house while firefighters were inside.

“He got out of the truck and started running toward the fire scene,” MacMaster said of Reginald Poulin. “He was shaking. He was asking very excitedly what was going on.”

Investigators later learned from a doctor who conducted the autopsy on Noel’s body that she had no soot or evidence of smoke inhalation in her throat, indicating she was dead before the fire began, according to an affidavit that Maine State Police filed in court seeking a warrant for Derek Poulin’s arrest.

Dr. William Hayes is expected to testify Friday about the wounds he discovered when conducting the preliminary autopsy of Noel’s body at a Saco funeral home. Dr. Margaret Greenwald, Maine’s chief medical examiner, also is expected to testify.

Macomber said the prosecution also plans to play a recording of Derek Poulin’s interview with police from the evening after his grandmother’s death.

Noel died from multiple blows to the head, skull fractures and multiple stab wounds, the affidavit said. Police recovered a golf club handle and shaft, a golf club head, a wrench and a knife with a 3-inch blade in the shower of the bathroom connected to the bedroom where her body was found, state police Detective Scott Harakles said in the affidavit.

A “red brown stain” found on one of Poulin’s boots matched Noel’s DNA profile, as did a swab of the wrench found in the shower, Harakles wrote.

Both Derek Poulin and his father lived with Noel at the house. Darcy Daniels, Derek Poulin’s aunt, said – after the killing – that Noel had been upset with him for not working, not contributing to the household and lacking motivation.

In the weeks before she was killed, Noel described having been physically and emotionally abused by Poulin, saying he had called her names, blown cigarette smoke in her face and “gotten physical” with her, the affidavit said.

If convicted, Poulin will face 25 years to life in prison for murder and up to 30 years in prison for arson.