PORTLAND — A New York man was convicted Thursday of murdering an Augusta couple as retribution for a drug-related burglary early Christmas Day in 2015 in a rural area of Manchester.

David W. Marble Jr., 32, has been in custody since Dec. 29, 2015, and the jury returned the verdict on the seventh day of Marble’s trial in Cumberland County Superior Court. They deliberated a total of more than five hours over two days.

Marble, 32, of Rochester, New York, bowed his head and was shaking it slightly as the verdict was read.

Christine Collins, of Gray, the mother of victim Bonnie Royer, had been to every court appearance of Marble since he was charged in the slaying Royer, 26, and Eric Williams, 35.

Collins sat through all seven days of Marble’s trial in Cumberland County Superior Court and was waiting for the jury’s verdict. Collins said Royer was raised by her grandmother, but Collins and Royer became close as Royer got older.

“I’m very pleased with the verdict,” Collins said, her eyes still brimming with tears.

The victims’ family members hugged each other as well as one of the prosecutors. Family members of Williams declined to speak to a reporter afterward. Collins and Royer’s father, Paul Mansir, of Pittston, were two of about 20 friends and family members of Royer and Williams who sat on the hard, wooden, straight-back benches in the public section of the courtroom and heard all the testimony.

About a dozen of them were in court to hear the verdict. They held hands and many burst into tears when the verdicts were announced.

Marble’s case took on additional statewide prominence when he was among those referenced by Gov. Paul LePage in early 2016, with the governor saying drug dealers were coming to Maine with names such as “D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty” and “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.” D-Money, or Dee Money, is an alias of Marble’s, but the references to the alias were ordered removed from most court documents because his lawyers were concerned it could be inflammatory, given LePage’s use of the nickname.

Marble’s nickname on his Facebook page is “Dee Money.” A post apparently by Marble, which was put on Facebook shortly after the 2015 slayings, says, “This was a good Christmas after all everybody got to present this year and I was not in locked up.” Another of his posts, from Monday, says, “Forgive me GOD FOR I HAVE SIN. Spiritus Sancti.”

After the jury verdicts, Justice Michaela Murphy dealt with the remaining count in the indictment, which charged Marble with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. It cited two of his convictions in New York, one in 2011 for robbery and one in 2007 for drug possession with intent to sell. Those convictions were both felonies, so he was prohibited from having a firearm.

Marble had waived his right to a jury trial on that charge.

Assistant Attorney General Meg Elam told the judge she should rely on testimony of two witnesses during the trial, one of whom said Marble had a firearm during the drug run to the Portland area. The other witness said Marble had a firearm at his apartment. On that basis, Murphy convicted him of that class C felony.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese requested that Marble continue to be held without bail, which Murphy granted.

‘LIFE IS LIFE’

Outside the courthouse, Marchese said, “We are obviously very pleased with the jury’s verdict. It was a thoughtful jury that obviously took their time deliberating.”

She said the state will seek a life sentence for Marble on both counts of murder. “In Maine, life is life without any possibility of probation or parole,” she noted.

Marble was brought into the courtroom to hear the verdict wearing the long-sleeved white shirt and gray pants that he has appeared in each day. His mother was in the courtroom as well. She left in tears immediately after the verdict was announced and was sobbing in the hallway later as people exited the courtroom.

Marble put his head down on the defense table as the clerk polled the six men and women individually about their verdicts. Some jurors spoke the word “guilty” more loudly and firmly than others.

The case went to the jury early Wednesday afternoon, and the jury sent several notes that day and early Thursday, requesting different items, including transcripts.

Marble had pleaded not guilty to the charges and did not testify at the trial. The jury knew only what he told investigators and what he told a reporter from a Rochester television station when he was being held at the Kennebec County jail.

His attorney, Jon Gale, suggested to the jury in his closing argument that investigators focused on Marble too quickly as the only suspect and that others could have committed the murders.

“David Marble maintained his innocence the entire time throughout the process,” Gale said afterward outside the courthouse. “We will pursue his rights to appeal and see where that takes us.”

PLACED AT THE SCENE

The killings stemmed from the soured drug-related relationship. Authorities said that Williams bought drugs from Marble and also assisted him in dealing drugs.

Officials said there was a big demand for drugs on Christmas Eve, prompting Marble to make a drug run; and he heard later that while he was gone, Williams burglarized the Augusta apartment where Marble was staying. Television sets, drugs, a gun and several backpacks were stolen during the burglary.

So Marble arranged for Williams, who was with his girlfriend, Royer, to pick him up shortly after 3 a.m. Christmas Day and drive to the entrance of a gravel pit. Authorities said Marble killed them in the vehicle as retribution for the burglary.

Marchese had argued that records showed Marble’s cellphone — which he insisted to police could be used only by him — had been located all along the route from Augusta to the gravel pit in the Summerhaven area of Manchester, where the killings took place. She said Marble was angry because he believed Williams had burglarized Marble’s Sewall Street apartment between 12:30 and 1:15 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2015, while Marble was being driven to the Portland area on a drug run.

The stolen items, including a firearm and drugs, were later located in a closet at Williams’ Augusta home.

Timothy Bragg testified — under a grant of immunity from the state — that he was at the scene and heard all three shots before driving Marble from the scene not once, but twice because Marble told him to turn around and return to the pit because he thought he had left his cellphone there.

At that point, investigators believe, Royer was shot a second time. She managed to make a 911 call at 3:34 a.m. that day to say she had been shot on Pit Road.

Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies and an Augusta police officer reached the site about 4:06 a.m. and found both Williams and Royer shot in the head.

Bragg testified that Marble had called him to his apartment and Bragg followed Williams’ Chevrolet Trailblazer, where Marble was riding in the back seat, out to the gravel pit. Bragg said another man, who has been identified only as “Metro,” was in the front seat of his vehicle.

Bragg also testified that he bought two firearms for Marble, including one police identified as the murder weapon, which has not been found.

Bragg said he drove Marble to the railroad trestle in Augusta, where Marble pitched the gun into the Kennebec River.

Gale told jurors that divers spent four days in a fruitless search for the weapon and suggested Bragg was lying.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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