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State v. Jaime

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

March 10, 2015

STATE OF MAINE
v.
GEORGE JAIME

Argued November 5, 2014

Page 1051

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1052

On the briefs:

Hunter J. Tzovarras, Esq., Bangor, for appellant George Jamie.

Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, Lara M. Nomani, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine.

At oral argument:

Hunter J. Tzovarras, Esq., for appellant George Jamie.

Lara M. Nomani, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee State of Maine.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.[*]

OPINION

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SAUFLEY, C.J.

[¶1] In the fall of 1998, thirty-nine-year-old Starlette Vining went missing. Her absence was not reported to authorities until 2006. On July 12, 2012, George Jaime was charged with Vining's murder. A jury found Jaime guilty, and he appeals from the resulting judgment of conviction of intentional or knowing murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A) (2014), entered by the trial court ( R. Murray, J.).

[¶2] Jaime raises several arguments on appeal. We focus on his arguments that the court erred in admitting prior consistent statements of Jaime's son, Ted Jaime, and that the court abused its discretion in preventing Jaime from presenting evidence that would have provided additional support implicating his son as an alternative suspect. Although we conclude that the court's application of alternative suspect jurisprudence reflected a misapprehension of the concept, we determine that the court's error was harmless. We affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶3] The prosecution in this case presented a " cold case" charge of a murder committed fifteen years before the trial. " Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could rationally have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Haag, 2012 ME 94, ¶ 2, 48 A.3d 207.

[¶4] In 1998, George Jaime was a local businessman who owned a commercial building in Presque Isle that housed a pawnshop, a wine shop, and several apartments. Jaime was involved in a romantic relationship with Starlette Vining. During the late summer or early autumn of 1998, Jaime and Vining lived together in an apartment on the ground floor of the building.

[¶5] One night in October 1998, Jaime arrived distraught and intoxicated at the house of his adult son Ted Jaime.[1] Ted observed that Jaime " had scratches and blood on him." Jaime told Ted that " something bad had happened, he had done something bad." Ted told his then-fiancé e, Parise Voisine, whom he lived with at the time, that he was leaving, and he took Jaime back to Jaime's apartment. When Ted walked inside Jaime's apartment, he saw Vining's body on the floor. The body looked lifeless and appeared to have multiple stab wounds. Ted covered the body with a blanket, left Jaime's apartment, and walked to the house of his longtime friend James Campbell.

[¶6] When Ted arrived at Campbell's house, he had blood on his shirt. Campbell gave him a fresh shirt to change into. Thereafter, Ted disclosed to Campbell what he had seen at Jaime's apartment. Campbell agreed to go to Jaime's apartment the next day to help Ted " clean up the mess." When Ted and Campbell arrived at Jaime's apartment the following day, they found that Jaime had wrapped Vining's body in a tarp and moved it into the basement of the building, which housed several boilers. Ted and Campbell then began cleaning the apartment. They

Page 1054

cleaned blood off of the bathroom walls, removed the carpeting where Vining's body had first lain, removed some of the sub-flooring under the carpet, replaced ceiling tiles, and ...


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