ALFRED — Less than a week before Patricia Noel was slain and her body was set on fire in her home in Old Orchard Beach, she told a friend that she would set a deadline for her jobless grandson to move out.

That friend, Deanna Frith, testified Friday during the second day of the trial of Derek Poulin, 26, Noel’s grandson, who allegedly stabbed his 61-year-old grandmother about 70 times with a knife and bludgeoned her with a wrench and a golf club before leaving her body and house to burn on Oct. 23, 2012.

“I talked to her about tough love and told her (Poulin) had to leave,” Frith testified in York County Superior Court in Alfred, where Poulin is on trial for murder and arson.

Frith, who is married to Noel’s cousin, testified that Noel agreed with her in their phone conversation sometime around Oct. 18, 2012. Noel said she should ask Poulin to move out of her house at 44 Wesley Ave.

Frith said she had no way of knowing whether Noel did what she said she would do.

Frith’s testimony established a possible motive for Poulin’s actions if the jury is to find him guilty.

Frith testified that Noel also planned to ask her son Reginald Poulin, Derek Poulin’s father, to move out so she could live alone.

Derek Poulin’s attorney, Amy Fairfield, told Justice John O’Neil Jr. before the trial that part of the defense is to name Reginald Poulin as a possible alternative suspect in Noel’s murder.

Reginald Poulin was scheduled to testify Friday, but that plan changed after an unexpected development.

The judge had said Thursday that he wanted Reginald Poulin to appear in court Friday so he could assess whether Fairfield’s plan to name him had any basis in evidence.

But Reginald Poulin left the courthouse Friday after speaking for more than an hour with his own attorney, Molly Butler Bailey, and was not required to go into the courtroom.

The development stalled the start of the trial’s second day until midmorning, but it is unclear how it will help or hurt either side’s case.

Bailey said Reginald Poulin will return to the courthouse Monday, but declined to comment further on why her client was not required to testify as planned. Fairfield and a prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, also declined to comment on the development.

Reginald Poulin has not cooperated with authorities, Macomber told O’Neil earlier in the week.


Both Poulins lived with Noel full time, and only they and a few other relatives had keys to the house. Firefighters found the house locked with a deadbolt when they arrived on the afternoon of Noel’s death, and had to break a door to put out the fire inside.

When firefighters found Noel’s body in her bedroom, her body was so severely burned that they couldn’t tell she had more than 70 stab wounds to her body.

A fire investigator, Mark Roberts of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, testified Friday that he interviewed Poulin at the Old Orchard Beach police station on the evening of Noel’s death, before he knew that she had been slain.

Prosecutors played a recording of that interview, allowing jurors to hear Poulin’s voice for the first time in the trial.

The interview starts with either Roberts or Old Orchard Beach police Detective Brady Coulombe offering condolences to Poulin for his loss and his grandmother’s death.

Poulin said: “I don’t even know what to say about that. I almost threw up.”

The interviewers go on to interrogate Poulin on his whereabouts on the night before and day leading up to the fire, asking him more about his and Noel’s schedules than about possible causes of the fire.

Poulin described himself as a marijuana user who spent his days idling around his grandmother’s house, collecting unemployment after nine months without a job as he searched for work.

Roberts said Poulin and Reginald Poulin left the police station after being interviewed separately that night, before investigators learned from an initial autopsy that Noel had died before the fire.

Margaret Greenwald, who was Maine’s chief medical examiner at the time, testified about an autopsy conducted the day after Noel’s death and described each of the 72 wounds she documented on Noel.

Greenwald, who is now retired, used charts to show jurors where each wound was on her body, how big it was and how deep it went.

Noel died from multiple blows to the head, skull fractures and stab wounds, Greenwald said. Police say they 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.

A red-brown stain found on one of Poulin’s boots matched Noel’s DNA profile, as did a swab from the wrench found in the shower, police have said.

Darcy Daniels, Derek Poulin’s aunt, said after the killing that Noel had been upset with her grandson because he lacked motivation, was not working and was not contributing to the household.

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