Tenants Harbor man seeks new trial for 2012 murder

By Stephen Betts | Jul 12, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Attorney David Paris, left, argues Friday, July 12, on behalf of Andrew Kierstead, who is serving a 45-year prison sentence for murder.

Rockland — A 47-year-old former Tenants Harbor resident is claiming that his lawyer's failure to use an expert witness on the effects of drug withdrawal denied him a fair trial that led to a conviction for murder and a 45-year prison sentence.

A hearing was held Friday, July 12, in Knox County Superior Court before Justice Daniel Billings on a post-conviction appeal by Andrew Kierstead,

Kierstead was convicted in November 2013 for the September 2012 murder of 48-year Richard Mills outside Mills' home on Far Meadow Lane in Cushing.

Kierstead shot Mills five times at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun after the two men argued about Kierstead's owing Mills $250 for drugs.

Mills, who was prescribed opiates for a disability, supplied Kierstead with drugs for years.

The state recounted at the 2013 trial how Kierstead went to Mills' home, and after an argument inside the house, the men went to work on Kierstead's truck, which was making an odd noise. Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said at the trial that Kierstead lured Mills outside with the story of the strange ticking noise in the motor. While Mills leaned over the hood, looking at the engine, Kierstead retrieved a loaded 12-gauge shotgun from the cab of his truck and shot Mills five times.

She said Kierstead did not call for help, but rather, closed the hood of the truck, went inside the home and consumed pills, passed out, came to and called 911 after finding Mills' body outside.

Attorney David Paris, who represents Kierstead in the appeal, questioned Kierstead's trial attorney, Steven Peterson, at the July 12 hearing about decisions on developing a defense.

Paris argued that an expert toxicologist should have been called to testify about the impact of withdrawal from drugs and how it could have been used to show that Kierstead did not have the intent to kill Mills. Intent is needed to prove murder instead of the lesser crime of manslaughter.

Peterson pointed out that there was considerable testimony at trial about Kierstead's condition after the shooting, when he made incriminating statements to police.

Paris contended, however, that those witnesses did not testify about Kierstead's state of mind at the time of the shooting.

A toxocolgist, JoAnn Samson, testified at the appeal hearing that withdrawal can cause confusion, paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide, and aggression.

The hearing was set to last the remainder of the day at the Knox courthouse. There is no timetable for when the judge will issue a ruling.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 12, 2019 13:12

Being on dope should not be an excuse for anything. He's where he belongs.

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