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Tenants Harbor man accused of killing alleged drug supplier pleads not guilty

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Andrew Kierstead (right) makes an initial appearance in Rockland District Court Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, accompanied by his attorney Steven Peterson.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 40-year-old Tenants Harbor man has pleaded not guilty to the September shotgun slaying of a friend who he claimed had supplied him with drugs for years.

Andrew J. Kierstead was in Knox County Superior Court on Wednesday morning for arraignment on the murder charge lodged against him in connection to the Sept. 27 death of Richard L. Mills.

Kierstead said nothing other than “not guilty” when asked by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm how he wanted to plead.

Assistant Maine Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, requested that the court order a forensic evaluation of Kierstead to determine his state of mind at the time of the shooting.

Defense attorney Steven Peterson of Rockport argued against the request, saying it was premature. Peterson said the prosecution has yet to provide him with evidence it has gathered in the case. He said it was not fair for the state to conduct such an examination before the defense knew the details of the state’s case.

Justice Hjelm agreed with Peterson and denied the state’s request. He said the state can re-file its request at a later time. Zainea said the state wanted to have the evaluation done as close to when the incident occurred as possible.

Peterson said last month that his client’s state of mind at the time of the shooting will be critical for the defense.

The homicide prosecutor said Wednesday she expected the state would be providing the discovery evidence to the defense within 20 days.

No action was taken on bail for Kierstead. He has been held without bail at the Knox County Jail since his arrest on the evening of the shooting.

Kierstead was arrested on Sept. 27 and indicted the following month by a Knox County grand jury.

In an affidavit filed by police after the shooting, investigators said Kierstead told them that he fired a shotgun repeatedly at Mills outside the victim’s home at 40 far Meadow Lane in Cushing because the victim had hooked him on drugs and had been supplying him for 10 or 15 years, but then shut him off for not paying money owed.

Kierstead told police that after he shot Mills, he took pills with the intent to overdose, according to the affidavit, but when woke up, hoped it was a dream, went outside and saw Mills, and called 911.

Investigators said they found five 12-gauge casings near the truck. One gunshot hole was found in the truck.

Inside the residence, officers found a suicide note believed to have been written by Kierstead that explained why he shot Mills. The shotgun was found and so was one empty methadone pill bottle, one empty hydrocodone bottle, one hydrocodone bottle containing four tablets and one hydrocodone bottle containing 27 tablets.

The autopsy performed Sept. 28 by the Maine medical examiner’s office found four wounds to Mills’ front with 12-gauge slugs and one birdshot wound to his right buttock.

In a 911 call reviewed by state police, Kierstead allegedly told the dispatcher that he killed Mills over “f…ing drugs and sh..” He went on to say that Mills had “just totally f…ed up my life.”

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