AUGUSTA — A New York man whose convictions for felony murder and robbery were deemed unconstitutional was resentenced Wednesday to the same amount of time in prison he received previously for his involvement in the beating death of an Augusta man in 2015.

Aubrey N. Armstrong, 30, of Far Rockaway, New York, was sentenced to 30 years on the felony murder charge Wednesday, while the robbery charge was dismissed by the state.

Armstrong was convicted of taking part in the brutal beating death of Joseph Marceau, of Augusta, during a drug-related robbery in November 2015.

Armstrong’s previous convictions and sentences on felony murder and robbery charges were deemed unconstitutional by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in July, because they violated the U.S. Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause.

In May 2018 Armstrong was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the felony murder charge and a concurrent 30 years, with one year suspended and four years probation, on the robbery charge.

The supreme court ruled, on an appeal filed by Armstrong, that being convicted of both felony murder and robbery was essentially being punished twice for the same crime.

Under Maine law, a person is guilty of felony murder if, acting alone or with others persons, the person commits or attempts to commit a felony — murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, gross sexual assault, or escape — that causes the death of another person.

“Mr. Armstrong was essentially sentenced twice for the same offense,” his attorney on the appeal and resentencing, Scott Hess, said Wednesday. “The robbery is an included element of the felony murder.”

The supreme court ordered the lower court’s previous sentence vacated and suggested the error could be addressed by merging the two counts into one, effectively dismissing one of the two counts and imposing a sentence only on the remaining count. That is essentially what Justice Daniel Billings, who was also the judge in Armstrong’s previous sentencing, did after roughly a half-hour of deliberation Wednesday.

Billings denied Hess’ request for a full resentencing process, instead noting there has been nothing in the record or higher court’s finding that indicated the 30-year sentence was inappropriate, just that it was inappropriate he was sentenced on two counts instead of one.

“Looking back, there is no question in my mind the 30-year sentence imposed previously was the correct one,” Billings said. “Ultimately I don’t think it is in anyone’s best interest, I don’t think it’s fair to (Armstrong) and I don’t think it’s fair to the victim’s family, to go through that (full resentencing process again). They spoke and their input was considered. They’d have to do that again (in a full resentencing) and all of that is not without a cost to the family.”

Leanne Robbin, assistant attorney general, said nothing about the brutal crime and Armstrong’s role in Marceau’s death changed with the supreme court’s ruling on the double jeopardy issue.

“There is no question (Marceau) was murdered in a brutal way, that is an objective fact that reflects the sentence,” she said. “This court already made the decision 30 years is the appropriate sentence.”

Hess argued the unconstitutionality of the previous sentence required the court to go through a full resentencing process to arrive at a fair sentence based on one, not two, charges.

“You can’t reconcile there were two sentences imposed for one crime,” he said. “The only way the court can rectify that is to have a resentencing.”

The only difference between the two sentences appears to be that Armstrong will now not be on probation after he serves his 30-year prison sentence.

Billings and Hess said the resentencing should not have any impact on any “good time” credit Armstrong may get while in prison, and that his projected earliest possible release date of 2040 should not be changed by anything that happened in court Wednesday.

Armstrong and three others were charged with murder, felony murder and robbery for the death of Marceau. Two co-defendants indicated Armstrong, also known as “Butta” and “ACon,” was the one who administered the fatal beating of Marceau in an Augusta apartment Nov. 23, 2015.

Armstrong was cleared of the murder charge but found guilty of felony murder and robbery.

Co-defendants Michael “Dirty” McQuade, 49, of Augusta, and Damik “Doughboy” Davis, 29, of New York, pleaded guilty to felony murder and robbery charges, in plea deals with the state. McQuade was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with an additional 13 years suspended and four years of probation. Davis, who had prior felony convictions, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with an additional 10 years suspended and four years probation.

A fourth defendant, Zina Fritze, 27, of Augusta, who was McQuade’s girlfriend, hanged herself in jail a day after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Witnesses testified at Armstrong’s trial that a group planned to rob Marceau, who was a drug user looking to sell some heroin to get some crack. Marceau was taken to McQuade’s former fourth floor apartment at 75 Washington St., where he gave up the heroin almost immediately, but the beating continued, and his arms and ankles were tied up.

Prosecutors said Marceau was punched, kicked and beaten with a stick and his head was stomped on.

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