Mercier murder trial begins in Somerset County

7:33 PM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- The murder trial of a man from the town of Industry got underway on Thursday. Jay Mercier is accused of killing a woman from Anson more than three decades ago.

Prosecutors say Mercier beat Rita St. Peter to death back in 1980. Her body was found off of Campground Road in Anson on the early morning of July 5, 1980. State investigators say that Mercier became a prime suspect early in the case but it took years to find enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Investigators found that DNA taken from one of Mercier's cigarettes matched unknown DNA found on the victim. Yet Mercier's attorneys say the evidence doesn't prove their client killed anyone. Meanwhile prosecutors say even early in the case all those years ago, Mercier showed signs of guilt.

"When asked whether he {Mercier} had any involvement in the death of Rita St. Peter, Mr. Mercier said something along the lines of 'Well I'm not saying I did do it...but if I did. What would happen? What would happen to me?," said Maine Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case. Mercier allegedly those remarks when investigators approached him the day after St. Peter's body was found.

"Mr. Benson says they're going to build a puzzle for you...we need to find all the pieces ladies and gentlemen," said Mercier's attorney John Martin in his opening statement to the jury, "We need to find all the pieces before they can proof Jay Mercier killed Rita St. Peter. I suggest you find all the pieces."

On Thursday the state called the first of its witnesses including the man who discovered St. Peter's body back in 1980 as well as the first police who arrived on scene. Prosecutors are also pointing at tire tracks left behind that they say came from Jay Mercier's truck.

The trial is expected to continue on Friday.


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