AUBURN – A jury was selected and opening statements were being presented in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Monday in the murder trial of two Auburn men charged in the beating deaths of two other men over a spilled beer and a jailhouse confrontation.
Gary Gauthier Jr., 26, and Thomas Dyer, 21, face 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the killings of John Graffam and James Vining.
The victims, who were beaten with a baseball bat, were found by hunters in shallow graves alongside railroad tracks in a rural section of Lewiston.
Prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on bloody clothing, the baseball bat and DNA evidence that ties the defendants to the victims. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Investigators identified Gauthier with the help of DNA evidence found on a beer can left in one of the shallow graves in which the two victims were buried, state police said in an affidavit.
Vining, 43, of Lewiston and Graffam, 30, of Auburn were each beaten in the head, police said.
The dispute apparently stemmed from a confrontation Dyer and Gauthier had with Graffam in September 2005 while the three were being held in the Androscoggin County Jail.
Dyer told investigators in an interview that Gauthier beat the victims with a baseball bat because he was angry over an earlier confrontation between Gauthier and Vining and the fact that Graffam spilled a beer in Gauthier’s car, the affidavit said.