The fate of a man accused of killing an Augusta couple on Christmas in 2015 now rests with a Cumberland County jury.
Arguments in David Marble Jr.’s trial for the murder of Eric Williams and Bonnie Royer finished around noon Wednesday, after more than a week of testimony. By around 5 p.m., the jury had not yet reached a verdict, and Justice Michaela Murphy dismissed them for the day.
During closing arguments, a prosecutor told the jury that witness testimony corroborated by data from Marble’s cellphone and physical evidence from the scene of the shooting requires them to return a guilty verdict.
A defense attorney, however, said that there is no evidence that Marble pulled the trigger and said that the state’s argument in the case — which was part of a controversy over racially charged comments by Gov. Paul LePage — was based on “bluster and horror.”
On Christmas morning 2015, Williams, 35, and Royer, 26, were each shot dead at a gravel pit less than a mile from their home. Marble, 32, of Rochester, New York, pleaded not guilty to the murders but prosecutors contend that he killed them in retaliation for a robbery of his apartment. He could face life in prison if found guilty.
In 2017, Marble’s case was moved from Kennebec County to a Portland court after LePage referenced him in public statement, saying drug dealers with names such as “D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty” come to Maine and sometimes impregnate “young white girl[s].”
The comments were condemned as bigoted in Maine and nationally. Lawyers on both side have largely avoided using Marble’s nickname, D-Money, during the trial and in court filings.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Lisa Marchese and defense attorney Jon Gale agreed that a central element of the case was testimony of Timothy Bragg, who allegedly gave Marble a ride to the crime scene on the night of the killings and later became a witness against him.
Both sides likewise agreed that in 2015 Bragg made false statements to police. But they broke on the reason for that, with Marchese saying that he didn’t initially say all he knew against Marble out of fear of the man, while Gale said that his later statements were led by police.
In closing arguments and during the trial, Gale also suggested that Bragg’s testimony, and that of other state witnesses who were given immunity in the case, was colored by racial bias. Marchese dismissed this notion Wednesday.
“Bonnie Royer and Eric Williams were executed,” Marchese told the jury, raising her hand to point at Marble sitting feet away. “They were executed by this man, David Marble, in retribution for the burglary at his apartment.”
“The evidence, the hard evidence, does not support that he pulled the trigger,” Gale, later told the jury, stressing that the state’s case does not rise above the legal standard of reasonable doubt.
The jury is scheduled to resume deliberation at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
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