June 20, 2018
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Defense seeks to exclude confession in Tenants Harbor man’s murder trial

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — The attorney for a 40-year-old Tenants Harbor man accused of gunning down a friend last September in Cushing has asked the judge to throw out his client’s statements to police.

Defense attorney Steven Peterson of West Rockport has asked Justice Jeffrey Hjelm to suppress the statements made by Andrew J. Kierstead in connection with the Sept. 27, 2012, shotgun slaying of 48-year-old Richard Mills of Cushing.

Kierstead was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol at the time he made the statements, according to Peterson in the motion filed in Knox County Superior Court. The attorney argued in his motion that the statements were not voluntary because Kierstead was not of a sound and conscious mind.

The defense attorney also has filed a motion asking for the trial to be moved outside of Knox County, citing extensive pretrial publicity. The change of venue is needed to avoid potential prejudice, Peterson states in his motion.

Kierstead has been held in jail since his arrest on the evening of Sept. 27 at Mills’ residence on Far Meadow Lane in Cushing.

Kierstead was indicted on a charge of murder by a Knox County grand jury in October. He later pleaded not guilty.

The trial is scheduled to start in November in Knox County.

No dates have been scheduled on the motions filed by Peterson.

Peterson said after Kierstead’s initial court appearance in September that his client’s state of mind at the time of the shooting will be critical to the case. Justice Hjelm ordered in December that a forensic evaluation be done by the state on Kierstead.

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 because Mills 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. He also told police that when he woke up, he hoped he had been dreaming, but then saw Mills outside and called 911.

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

Inside the residence, officers found a suicide note believed to have been written by Kierstead that explained why he shot Mills, according to the affidavit. 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 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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