A man long-suspected of killing a teenager in Millinocket, Maine is finally standing trial for Joyce McClain's murder, 37 years after her body was found.
Philip Scott Fournier, 57, of East Millinocket, is accused of killing McClain, who was found nearly naked, bound, and badly beaten near Schenck High School in 1980.
"It's a little bit surreal," said McClain's high school friend Michele Moran. "I'm not sure I believed [a trial] would ever happen, because of all the time that has passed."
Moran, and more than two dozen friends and family members packed a Bangor courtroom to hear opening statements Monday.
Prosecutors said Fournier confessed to the crime decades ago, and revealed information about the case that only the killer would know.
"His confession is consistent with the evidence either known to some of the investigators at the time, or developed in later years," said Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin.
She said in the days leading up to the murder, Fournier told several people that the teenager caught his attention.
In 2008, McClain's body was exhumed for further DNA testing. It is not clear if any new evidence led to Fournier's 2016 arrest, and when asked outside the courthouse if prosecutors planned to present new evidence, they responded "no comment."
"The only evidence the state has that connects [Fournier] to the killings are his statements," said defense attorney Jon Haddow. He said prosecutors will not present any eye witnesses or forensic evidence that tie the defendant to the crime scene.
Haddow argued in his opening statement that Fournier suffered a traumatic brain injury hours after McClain went missing, casting doubts on the content of his confessions.
McClain's mother Pam took the stand Monday to recount her daughter's final hours, explaining how the 16-year-old went for a jog and never returned home.
Attorneys accompanied the judge on a field trip to visit the crime scene Monday afternoon. Fournier has waived his right to a jury trial, so the judge will be deciding the verdict.
Trial is expected to last several days. If convicted, Fournier faces 25 years to life in prison.