SKOWHEGAN — Ever since his arrest on charges of murdering his wife in 2016, Luc Tieman, of Fairfield, in audio recordings with detectives played for the jury in court Thursday, has denied shooting her to death.

State police investigators call it “Luc’s list of lies.”

Valerie Tieman

His defense attorney, Stephen Smith, tried to divert attention Thursday from his client to Tieman’s brother, Sam Tieman, as someone who could have killed Valerie Tieman.

Sam Tieman, now 28, was working construction in August 2016 at Sugarloaf, just 90 minutes from the Tieman home he shared with his parents and Luc and Valerie, Smith told the jury of eight men and six women. The tools allegedly used to dig Valerie’s shallow grave were Sam’s tools. He operated a landscape business, had a history of drug use and had taken drugs — injecting the narcotic Percocet — with his brother and his wife, Smith noted.

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, one of two prosecutors in the case, dismissed the insinuation, noting that Sam didn’t have a license to drive and went to work at the mountain for the entire week, driven there by his boss. The tools were in an unlocked shed on the Tieman property.

“Everybody had access to those tools,” Robbin said.

Sam Tieman took the stand Thursday, the fourth day of Tieman’s murder trial, before Justice Robert Mullen in Somerset County Superior Court. He testified that he first learned of Valerie’s death from police and that around the time police say Valerie was killed, Luc had sent him a text message saying: “Valerie left me, bro.”

“My brother accused me of helping bury the body,” he said on the stand, noting that he wanted to confront Luc Tieman because of that.

Sam Tieman said he did not help with the burial and had no information on Valerie’s death.

As he left the stand Thursday, Sam Tieman walked right by his brother seated at the defendant’s table, not looking at him and not exhibiting any body language.

Luc Tieman did not look up.

Luc Tieman told police on Sept. 20, 2016, the day his wife’s body was found behind his parents’ home on Norridgewock Road in Fairfield, that Valerie, who was 34, had died from a heroin overdose. He said he had brought her the heroin and that she had died, smiling at him, after injecting the drug herself.

There was no evidence of heroin found in Valerie’s body.

Drugs were found in Valerie’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. The medical examiner who testified Wednesday said she couldn’t tell which bullet was fired first, but that each of the shots would have killed Valerie.

Police and prosecutors charge that Valerie died about Aug. 25, 2016, and was buried by Luc Tieman in a shallow grave behind his parents’ house at 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield. In her grave were personal items including a bottle of Gucci perfume called Guilty and a handwritten note with the name “Luc-e,” which matched the name in other notes Valerie had saved as marriage mementoes.

Detectives also testified they found a .45-caliber handgun and ammunition on Sept. 20, 2016, inside the Tieman home.

In the eyes of Maine State Police detectives in audio recordings played for the jury Thursday, Luc Tieman was either a conniving, jealous husband who was cheating on his wife, or a husband who loved his wife so much that he couldn’t live without her.

“You already told us you buried her. So what else could have happened?” Detective Jason Andrews can be heard asking Tieman on Sept. 21, the day he was arrested, on one of the recordings played Thursday. “Is it possible you loved her so much you killed her so she wouldn’t leave you? At what point did you shoot her?”

Investigators with the Maine State Police and Maine Warden’s Service look for evidence in the death of Valerie Tieman, whose body was found Sept. 20, 2016, in the woods behind 628 Norridgewock Road in Fairfield. Staff file photo by Michael G. Seamans

Tieman held his ground, as he has all the way to pleading not guilty to murder and putting his fate before a judge and jury.

“I did not kill my wife, Valerie Joy Tieman,” he can be heard telling police. “I loved her like Christ loved the church. If I killed my wife, why would I leave a note?”

The trial opened Thursday with a video taken from Luc Tieman’s cellphone provided by Dawn Ego, of the state police computer crimes unit. The video shows Tieman talking to the camera from inside his truck with a blanket draped over the driver’s seat. The blanket appeared to be the same one presented earlier this week as the one that Valerie was wrapped in when she was buried.

The rest of Thursday morning and early afternoon was devoted to cellphone records and discussions between the judge and the attorneys — some without the jury present in the courtroom — on the admissibility of text and Facebook messages as evidence.

Smith argued the messages were not evidence but “hearsay upon hearsay.”

Mullen disagreed and allowed the messages provided by Detective Scott Quintero to be used as evidence against Tieman.

Maine State Police Sgt. Kyle Willette, left, leaves the Somerset County Superior Court on Thursday in Skowhegan after testifying about phone and Facebook records involving communication between Luc and Valerie Tieman and others during Luc Tieman’s trial for the murder of his wife. Staff photo by David Leaming

State police Sgt. Kyle Willette then played a PowerPoint presentation about cellphones that lasted well into the afternoon, with cellphone records of calls made to Luc Tieman by women, and calls by him to them. Among them was the woman he referred to as his “rebound girl” after he said his wife disappeared Aug. 30 from the Skowhegan Walmart parking lot, the woman he moved in with two days later.

The killing is alleged to have taken place Aug. 25 — 15 days before Valerie’s parents reported her missing and five days before Tieman claimed his wife had disappeared, although he did not report her missing.

The Walmart story is among the police investigators’ “list of lies,” which also includes stories of camping sites he and Valerie had visited, the drug overdose death and Valerie’s “other man,” police said.

The trial is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Friday. So far, the defense has yet to call any witnesses.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow