HOULTON, Maine — An attorney for a New York man sentenced to life in prison for murdering an Augusta couple on Christmas Day 2015 argued Thursday that the conviction should be tossed out because evidence from a cell phone was obtained without probable cause.
David Marble Jr. is appealing his conviction for the murders of Augusta residents Eric Williams, 35, and Bonnie Royer, 26. His nickname, “Dee Money,” was used by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage in highly publicized comments about out-of-state drug dealers. The remarks prompted a change in venue for the murder trial.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments from his attorney Tina Heather Nadeau and Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber at Houlton High School on Thursday.
Marble Jr. was convicted after a trial of two counts of murder and one count of illegal possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life in prison for the shootings and is serving the sentences concurrently.
Police have said Marble, of Rochester, New York, shot both victims in the head because he thought Williams had stolen from him. Prosecutors said Royer was 20 to 22 weeks pregnant at the time.
His attorney argued that the trial court erred when it denied Marble’s motion to suppress information obtained by police acting on a search warrant from his cellphone including site location information, evidence which police used to help tie Marble to shooting deaths. Marble made several calls to Williams, including one just an hour before the murders took place.
Nadeau stated that the state did not have probable cause to secure a search warrant and that the request for cellphone records was a “fishing expedition to identify people who had phone contact with the deceased and nothing more. This scattershot approach does not satisfy the particularity requirement,” she said Thursday. “It does not rise to probable cause to search and seize data connected with Marble’s phone.”
Macomber argued that plenty of probable cause existed, and that “there was overwhelming evidence of Mr. Marble’s guilt, including eyewitness testimony.”
He also argued that the jury heard evidence that Marble had a motive to retaliate against the victims, that he had an accomplice direct the victims to come to his apartment, that he had another person drive the accomplice to the scene of the crime (where Marble was also presen) and that Marble participated in disposing of the murder weapon.
Macomber maintained that this evidence established that Marble, at a minimum, aided in the commission of the murders and that the lower court acted properly.
Royer contacted the Somerset County Communications Center seeking E-911 services on Dec. 25, 2015, at 3:34 a.m., according to court documents. “I’m on the (Pit) Road. I’ve just been shot,” she told the emergency services worker, according to court documents.
The Law Court did not issue a timeline for making its ruling.