AUGUSTA — A New York man goes on trial here Tuesday on charges of murder, felony murder and robbery in the beating death of an Augusta man in November 2015 that was apparently drug-related.

Aubrey N. Armstrong, 29, of Far Rockaway, New York, has opted for trial by a judge rather than by a jury, and proceedings are set in Courtroom 3 of the Capital Judicial Center in front of Justice Daniel Billings.

Armstrong is accused of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder of Joseph Marceau, 31, as well as felony murder — which says Armstrong acted with others to commit robbery which resulted in Marceau’s death — and robbery, again which injured Marceau.

Armstrong was arrested on the Maine charges in Queens, New York, in July 2016.

The trial is expected to last through Friday, and two interpreters have been brought in to translate proceedings between Patois, as spoken in Guyana, and English.

It was not clear whether Armstrong is from Guyana. Armstrong is not a U.S. citizen but is legally in the United States, his attorney, Brad Grant said.

Armstrong was in the middle of a three-year prison term at the Southport Correctional Facility in Pine City, New York, when he was ordered returned to Maine to face the charges in the indictment.

Last August, two co-defendants, Damik Davis, 28, of New York and Michael Sean McQuade, 47, of Augusta, pleaded guilty to felony murder and robbery in connection with Marceau’s death. Both defendants signed plea agreements to cooperate with the prosecution of any remaining defendants, and the judge ordered those agreements sealed until the resolution of the murder charges against Armstrong. Both Davis and McQuade are expected to testify against Armstrong at his trial, according to documents filed in the case. In the meantime, Davis and McQuade remain in custody awaiting sentencing.

The charges of felony murder and robbery, both Class A offenses, each carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison.

McQuade’s attorney, Andrew Wright, told the judge at that time of the pleas that McQuade was pleading guilty under the theory of accomplice liability. Wright said McQuade was present at the time, but did not strike Marceau himself.

At that plea hearing, the prosecutors, Assistant Attorneys General John Alsop and Jon Nathans, outlined the state’s version of the case against the two, saying two Augusta police officers responded to a fourth floor Washington Street apartment Nov. 23, 2015, after downstairs neighbors reported a violent disturbance taking place above them.

The officers heard the ruckus as they climbed the stairs, Alsop said.

Alsop said Davis, who is also known as “Doughboy,” answered the door “sweating profusely, breathing hard and had blood on his left hand.” Alsop also said officers saw blood on a wall as well as a second individual, described as a “slender black male wearing a hoodie” — believed to be Armstrong — behind Davis.

The officers asked for Zina Marie Fritze, 27, and McQuade, also known as “Dirty.” Both had been recently evicted from that apartment, but as the officers waited out front, the occupants fled out the back stairs, Alsop said. Police used a tracking dog and found Davis hiding in the bushes near the apartment building.

Marceau’s body was found in a bedroom near where Armstrong had been seen, Alsop said, adding that Marceau’s feet were bound with a shoelace, and his hands were bound with the bra to a bikini.

Alsop said the medical examiner concluded Marceau died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Marceau also had been beaten on the torso with a rod or stick.

“Joe Marceau resisted,” Alsop said. “He was a pretty big guy, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds by the autopsy results. He resisted. There was a considerable struggle.”

Alsop also said McQuade “did not expect such a severe beating to be inflicted in connection with the robbery.” Alsop also said that both McQuade and Fritze were “serious heroin addicts” who had known Marceau because they had purchased drugs from him in the past. Marceau, who grew up in Gardiner, lived most recently in an apartment on Winthrop Street in Augusta.

McQuade told police he saw Davis and Armstrong attack Marceau, with Davis at one point attempting to stop Armstrong, Alsop said.

Alsop said Davis, McQuade, Armstrong and Fritze, had planned the robbery earlier while at the home of another woman, and three of them returned there afterward.

Alsop said once there, Armstrong bleached his clothes in an attempt to get rid of all the blood.

The next day, when they learned Marceau was dead, Armstrong fled to New York, and Fritze and McQuade hid out in Augusta where they were arrested on Jan. 22, 2016. Fritze was also indicted on the murder, felony murder and robbery charges, but hanged herself in the Kennebec County jail on Jan. 27, 2016, a day after she pleaded not guilty.

At the plea hearing Nathans told the judge at one point Armstrong told the woman at the home “that he had beaten Marceau and threatened all (the others) to keep quiet about it.”

Armstrong’s attorney, Brad Grant, watched those plea hearings take place.

Grant has filed a number of motions on behalf of his client, and one filed in December 2017 says Marceau had turned up at that woman’s house “and let it be known that he had 5 grams of heroin” and that Fritze and McQuade concocted the robbery scheme.

Another says that “the only direct evidence that (Armstrong) was present in the apartment where Joseph Marceau died is from Michael McQuade and Damik Davis. And still another says that Davis underwent two lie-detector examinations where he was asked about Marceau’s death and the conclusion was “Deception Indicated.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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