June 25, 2018
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Jury selection begins in trial of man accused of Cushing murder

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Jury selection was underway Monday in the trial of a Tenants Harbor man accused of gunning down a friend who the defendant claims was his source of illegal drugs for many years.

A jury pool of about 100 people filled the main Knox County Superior Courtroom Monday as jury selection began for the trial of Andrew J. Kierstead, who is charged with murder in connection with the September 2012 shotgun slaying of 48-year-old Richard Mills of Cushing.

Five of the potential jurors stood when asked whether they knew Kierstead, who was dressed in a dark blue suit jacket and white shirt. Two potential jurors stood when asked whether they knew the victim. Four potential jurors stood when asked whether they had a problem with the presumption of innocence for Kierstead in this case.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm told those assembled that he expected it would take the entire day to select a jury and that opening statements by the prosecution and defense would likely be made Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last the entire week.

The 41-year-old Tenants Harbor man told police that Mills had supplied him with drugs after getting him hooked 10 or 15 years ago, according to a state police affidavit. Mills had recently fronted him $250 worth of pills but then refused to give him more drugs until Kierstead paid off the debt, Kierstead told police according to the affidavit.

On Sept. 27, Kierstead shot Mills repeatedly with a 12-gauge shotgun outside the victim’s house, according to police. 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.

Defense attorney Steven Peterson of Rockport had tried to keep Kierstead’s confession from being presented at trial, saying he was too intoxicated and under the influence of drugs, but Justice Hjelm rejected that argument last week.

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