CARIBOU (AP) – The trial of a Limestone woman accused of fatally stabbing a day care provider while the victim’s daughter slept in her home got under way Tuesday in Aroostook County Superior Court.

Laura Kirk, 34, is charged with murder in the slaying of Tara Bell on or about Dec. 17, 2001.

The victim’s body was found in her Caswell home when a client attempted to drop off children. Kirk was arrested four days later when police matched her DNA with blood samples found in the victim’s home.

More than 100 prospective jurors were questioned before a jury was seated on Monday. Opening statements began Tuesday morning.

Bell, 27, was the mother of two daughters, ages 6 and 3. The older daughter had spent the night at her grandparents’ home next door on the night of the slaying; the 3-year-old was asleep in bed in the home when her mother’s body was discovered on the kitchen floor.

Kirk’s children, who were in the custody of their father at the time of the slaying, reportedly went to Bell’s child care business.

Police first questioned Kirk the day after the murder as a possible witness. At that time, they noticed wounds on her hands, possibly from a struggle.

During her arraignment in February 2002, Kirk entered pleas of innocent and innocent by reason of mental disease. She is being held without bail at Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

AP-ES-06-10-03 1052EDT

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