HOULTON, Maine — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Presque Isle pawn shop owner charged in the death of a woman who has been missing since 1998.
George Jaime Sr., 76, appeared in court with his attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, as jury selection for his Nov. 12 trial began in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton.
One hundred and twelve prospective jurors were called to the courthouse to fill out a questionnaire that was reviewed by Justice Robert Murray. By late afternoon, he had excused 34 individuals from service and planned to continue reviewing potential jurors on Tuesday.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson is prosecuting the case.
Jaime was arrested on July 12, 2012, at The Star City Trading Post, the pawn shop he operated on Main Street in Presque Isle. He was charged in the death of Starlette Vining of Presque Isle, who was 38 years old at the time of her disappearance.
Vining last was seen alive in the fall of 1998 in the Presque Isle area.
Though Vining’s body has not been found, Jaime has been charged with intentional or knowing murder. He has been held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton since his arrest and has never been allowed a bail hearing.
Vining and Jaime were in a relationship in 1998, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
According to Vining’s missing-person profile on the state police website, she last worked at Smythe’s IGA in Presque Isle. That store closed in July 2007. Described as a dependable employee, Vining suddenly stopped going to work in the fall of 1998 and never returned to pick up her last paycheck.
Vining’s former husband and her three now-adult children told police that they had last seen her in 1998.
Maine State Police Detective Josh Haines said that family members reported her missing in October 2006. The detective said the family was not close, and Vining tended to relocate often. She did not always keep in touch with her family, but she never was out of their lives for more than a few years at a time, he said.