November 13, 2013

Maine trial begins in woman's 1998 disappearance

The defense argues murder charges against the Presque Isle man can’t be proven because Starlett Vining’s body has never been found.

The Associated Press

HOULTON — A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that a 76-year-old pawn shop owner killed his girlfriend in a drunken rage 15 years ago, but a defense attorney questioned whether anything can be proven since her remains were never found.

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George Jaime Sr.

The Associated Press/ Presque Isle Police Department

George Jaime Sr., of Presque Isle, stabbed Starlett “Star” Vining and beat her with the knife handle in 1998, according to an account that Jaime’s son provided to detectives last year, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said.

Defense attorney Jeff Silverstein, meanwhile, told jurors that without a body there’s no proof of injuries or that Jaime was responsible.

Jaime has been held without bail since his arrest in July 2012 at The Star City Trading Post, the pawn shop he operated on Presque Isle’s Main Street.

WAGM-TV said Benson described for jurors “an extremely sad” story in which Vining and Jaime were in a toxic relationship that ended in a violent confrontation. He said details of the encounter were provided by Jaime’s son, who helped clean up after the killing.

Vining, who was 38, was working at a grocery store in Presque Isle when she stopped coming to work in October 1998.

Family members didn’t officially report her as missing until 2006, saying she didn’t always keep in touch and was known to relocate.

The first two witnesses on Tuesday were Frederick Donnatelli, who used to live in Jaime’s apartment building, and Donna Nelson, the former bakery and deli supervisor at the supermarket where Vining worked.

Testimony in the murder trial will continue through the week in Aroostook County Superior Court. Attorneys said the trial could continue into next week.

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