Bruce Akers and his attorney Valerie Randall watch as the jury enters Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred. Akers is charged with murder in connection with the death of his neighbor Douglas Flint in Limington in 2016. Police allege that Akers killed Flint with a machete and then hid his body under deer hides in his yard. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

ALFRED — When Amanda Flint left her father’s Limington home on a June evening nearly four years ago, he had taken a steak out of the freezer to defrost and cook for dinner.

Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis gives his opening statement Monday in the murder trial of Bruce Akers. He said the evidence would prove that Akers used a machete to hit Douglas Flint 13 to 16 times in the head and neck.  Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

When she arrived at the house the next morning, the steak was still on the counter, untouched in its packaging.

It was one of the first clues that something was wrong, Douglas Flint’s daughter testified Monday.

She took the witness stand in York County Superior Court on the first day of trial of Bruce Akers, who is charged with murder in her father’s death. The two men were neighbors on Ossipee Trail. Family members reported 55-year-old Flint missing in June 2016, and police found his body under a pile of deer carcasses on Akers’ land.

Douglas Flint

Akers, now 61, has pleaded not guilty. He sat quietly Monday in court, only speaking in whispered conversation with his attorneys.

The prosecutor used his opening statement to give the jury an outline of the evidence to come. Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis said forensic evidence would prove that Akers used a machete to strike Flint 13 to 16 times in the head and neck, nearly decapitating him.

“This is what I suppose you could call a horrifying tale of two neighbors,” said Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis.

During her own opening statement, defense attorney Kristine Hanly held up a box for a 300-piece puzzle with an image of a lighthouse on the front and a plastic bag of puzzle pieces. She told the jurors that the state had given them a picture of a murder, but they would ultimately realize they did not have all the pieces they would need to convict Akers.

Defense attorney Kristine Hanly gives her opening statement Monday in the trial of Bruce Akers in York County Superior Court. She told jurors that Akers had a history of paranoia and psychosis. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“I ask you to pay careful attention to what piece you receive and what pieces you don’t,” Hanly said.

Both sides suggested jurors would hear evidence about Akers’ state of mind at the time of Flint’s death. For a person to be convicted of murder, the state has to prove that a defendant acted intentionally or knowingly to cause another person’s death.

Ellis highlighted specific comments Akers made to the police. In the afternoon, the jury heard a recording of a conversation between Akers and officers from the York County Sheriff’s Office. At one point, Akers told them, “You know, one thing I wanted in my life, I never wanted to do something bad. I didn’t want to be infamous.”

“Keep in mind as you’re listening to this the state of mind of the defendant, the clarity of his comments,” Ellis said.

Hanly said the jury would hear multiple witnesses testify that Akers had a history of paranoia and psychosis. One of the first witnesses to testify Monday was Debbie Berry, who was married to Akers for 14 years before they divorced in 2001. She said her ex-husband had been hospitalized twice for mental health issues in the 1980s, and he had been diagnosed at the time with manic depression, which is now called bipolar disorder.

Justice Wayne Douglas instructs the jury at the start of the trial Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Because he was suffering from this abnormal condition of mind, the state will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was able to act with the required state of mind,” Hanly said.

The jurors also heard testimony from multiple Flint family members, who testified about the days before and after they realized he was missing. Ellis asked Amanda Flint about a conversation she had with Akers while she was searching with her father, when the neighbor told her calmly that he had not seen Flint since the previous day. Defense attorney Valerie Randall asked about their dislike of Akers, as well as their statements to police that Flint believed he was missing a case of Budweiser and that he might confront someone he believed had stolen his beer.

While Amanda Flint was on the stand, the prosecutor flashed a photograph of her father’s kitchen from the investigation, asking her to identify what she saw.

“There’s the steak that never got cooked,” she said.

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