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AUGUSTA — Tonia Kigas Porter was freed from state custody Friday for the first time in almost 20 years.

The 49-year-old woman had been committed to the commissioner of the Department of Health & Human Services after being found not criminally responsible for murder for starving her 5-year-old daughter to death in 1993 in Bangor.

A judge in Kennebec County Superior Court ordered Porter discharged after the state, her psychiatrist and the State Forensic Service said they all supported it for Porter, who most recently was diagnosed and treated for cancer.

“She has managed those losses and difficulties with great dignity,” said Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service.

Porter has been living in Augusta and doing volunteer work there for years and getting support from people in the community.

Justice Donald Marden asked LeBlanc what Porter’s reaction would be to seeing her photo in the newspaper.

“She’s learned one day your picture shows up on the front page and two days later, people forget about it,” LeBlanc said.

Marden said statements by those testifying on Friday convinced him that Porter has worked hard to recover.

“There’s no question Ms. Porter bears a heavy burden,” Marden said.

J. Mitchell Flick, Porter’s attorney, told the judge Porter is particularly conscientious about taking her medication and “extremely likely to succeed.”

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak Smith said that once Porter recovered from her severe psychosis, she was distressed and remorseful about what she had done.

“I think it’s a good thing when a person recognizes how serious it was and has the remorse because that’s the beginning of the recovery and can give the public some comfort that the person knows this was a bad thing,” Yustak Smith said.

Porter was committed to state custody in 1995.

Yustak Smith said she contacted family members of the victim prior to the hearing to discuss Porter’s potential discharge, and learned one was deceased and the other did not want to attend the hearing.

Porter hugged treatment providers and others from Riverview Psychiatric Center and from the hospital’s Assertive Community Treatment Team.

She is expected to continue with community-based treatment.

During a separate hearing in the same court Friday, Kirk T. Lambert also was discharged from the custody of the commissioner.

Lambert, 33, had been committed to state custody in 2000, following a verdict of not criminally responsible for robbery in an incident in which his lawyer said he wheeled a TV out of Walmart.

LeBlanc testified that Lambert was admitted to Riverview “and he stabilized quite quickly on medications.” She also said he has been dealing with an ongoing substance abuse issue.

Lambert has moved several times between the state hospital and the community, and several witnesses said he appeared overly dependent on Riverview and it was time for him to move on now that his mental illness is being treated and there has been no evidence of psychosis.

Instead of readmitting him recently, LeBlanc said, the hospital offered him a list of homeless shelters.

LeBlanc described Lambert, whose head is shaved, as “a good hair cutter,” and a person who is creative and makes beautiful quilts.

She said it appeared unlikely he would injure himself or others and that he plans to move to northern Maine where his father is a registered Maine Guide.

“He has been clean and sober for six months and quite committed to staying clean and sober,” she said.

LeBlanc said Lambert “was compassionate to other people with major mental illness who couldn’t help themselves.”

In March 2013, Lambert was a patient at Riverview when he was credited with rescuing a mental health worker there who was under attack by another patient.

The state, through Assistant District Attorney David Spencer, raised no objection to Lambert’s release.

“You are entitled to be discharged and have worked hard to bring yourself to this position,” Marden told Lambert. “You have some issues that you’re really going to have to stay on top of if you’re going to stay out of trouble.”

Marden warned him that people who don’t address substance issues “become very involved in the criminal justice system. In the final analysis, what happens is entirely up to you.”

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University of New England students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with stress and other wellness issues
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PORTLAND, Maine — Students at the University of New England are spending time at the Cumberland County Jail this week.

The students have created a program for jail staff and correction officers to help them deal with several issues. The biggest one…stress.

They’re doing it not only for class credit, but because they say it’s the right the thing to do.

All week UNE students, studying to be nurses, occupational therapists and trainers, will help the staff with nutrition, exercise and stress management.

In the stress management session there were all kind of sensory activities like making slime and stress balls, by stuffing flour into a balloon.

It’s a  tool that will come in handy for corrections officer Chelsea Moore.

“There’s a lot of stress looking over your shoulder. There’s a lot of not knowing what’s going to happen at any given second. That’s probably the most tiring part of it” Moore says.

This is not the first time UNE students have been in the jail. They were there last year working with inmates, helping them with all kinds of wellness issues.

While there, they noticed the jail staff and correction officers could use some of the same services.

Kelly Pitre, who is studying occupational therapy at UNE, and will graduate next month, is spearheading this program, which is all volunteer.

“I feel like it’s our turn to take care of them” Pitre says. “I’m passionate about it, it’s a great way to put my skills to the test and help implement stress, well being, health and wellness.”

Libby Alvin, who is set to graduate from UNE’s nursing program next month says while she is busy with her school work, she looks forward to getting out in the community.

“It brings you back to why you’re doing school and why you’re working your butt off everyday in the library, to work with people and help make things better.”

A kind gesture that’s greatly appreciated.

“It’s nice to know somebody thought of us. There’s all this work, put into a whole week of them coming in and spending time with all shifts” says Moore.

Last year Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce awarded UNE students a Volunteer Appreciation Award for their work with inmates.

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Couple indicted in Augusta man’s murder

Zina Fritz and Michael Sean McQuade lived in apartment where killing occurred

An Augusta couple has been charged with murder in connection with the drug-related death of a man last November.

Zina Fritz, 27, and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, were both indicted on murder charges stemming from the death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta, on Nov. 23, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Fritz and McQuade lived in the apartment at 75 Washington St., Augusta, where Marceau’s body was found.

Investigators have not disclosed how Marceau died but have said the death was drug-related.

Augusta police arrested the couple on unrelated charges last week. They were told of the indictment against them Monday, McCausland said.

A third person, Damik Davis of New York, was arrested on a murder charge the day Marceau’s body was discovered.

Police went to the apartment after receiving a report of a disturbance.

Fritz and McQuade are expected to make their first court appearance Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

 

Augusta couple pleads not guilty to murder, robbery

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AUGUSTA, Maine — An Augusta man and woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder, felony murder and robbery in the Nov. 23 death of an Augusta man.

Zina Marie Fritze, 27, and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, were indicted last week by a Kennebec County grand jury on charges of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder, felony murder and robbery.

Tuesday’s appearance at the Augusta Judicial Center was their first since the indictments.

Felony murder is a crime for which someone is charged when they are alleged to have caused the death of someone while committing murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, gross sexual assault or escape.

Both will remain in jail without bail pending February hearings, Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings determined.

Another man, Damik Davis, 25, of Queens, New York, was arrested and charged with murder the day Joseph Marceau’s body was found. Davis remains in at Kennebec County Jail.

The body of Marceau of 23 Winthrop St., Augusta, was found Nov. 23, 2015, in a fourth-floor apartment rented by Fritze and McQuade at 75 State St., in Augusta.

Police have called the death a drug-related homicide, but Assistant Attorney General John Alsop, who is prosecuting the case, said following the arraignment that the felony murder charge results from the allegation of robbery and that neither Fritze nor McQuade are charged with any drug-related crimes.

Alsop said no decision has yet been made about whether to seek to join the two cases.

Immediately following Davis’ arrest, police began searching for Fritze and McQuade. They were were located, questioned and released by police two days after the homicide.

However, they were arrested by Augusta police Friday on unrelated charges and have been held in jail since then. The felony indictments were announced Monday.

Fritze’s attorney, Darrick Banda, declined to comment on the current charges, having just been assigned the case Monday. Attorney Andrew Dawson, who represents McQuade on lesser charges of theft, appeared Tuesday with McQuade, but another attorney will be appointed to represent him on the murder charges, Billings said.

Augusta murder suspect dies after being found hanging in jail cell

Zina Fritz, 27, charged with murder stemming from death of Joseph Marceau

Zina Fritz, 27, who was charged with murder stemming from the death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta, on Nov. 23, died Wednesday, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.Fritz was found hanging by a bed sheet in her Kennebec County Jail cell Wednesday afternoon, McCausland said.

She was taken to MaineGeneral in Augusta, but died in the ambulance.

Fritz’s death will be investigated by Maine State Police and the attorney general’s officer per state protocol, McCausland said.

Fritz and her boyfriend, Michael Sean McQuade, 45, lived in the apartment at 75 Washington St., Augusta, where Marceau’s body was found.

Fritz and McQuade pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday and were ordered held without bail.

 

Michael Sean McQuade, defendant in Augusta murder, facing burglary, theft charges

Michael Sean McQuade, 45, of Augusta, was charged Friday by a grand jury in Kennebec County with two counts of burglary, six counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, and eight counts of theft by unauthorized taking, all between May 1, 2015, and Nov. 10, 2015, and all in Augusta.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates that there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

McQuade pleaded not guilty Jan. 26, 2016, to the prior indictment charging him with murder, felony murder and robbery, in what police say was a drug-related crime.

McQuade’s girlfriend, Zina Marie Fritze, 27, who also was indicted on the murder and robbery charges, committed suicide in jail on Jan. 27, 2016, after she too pleaded not guilty to those offenses.

Marceau was found beaten to death Nov. 23, 2015, in the Washington Street apartment that had been occupied by McQuade and Fritze. Another man, Damik Davis, 26, of Queens, New York, who was arrested shortly after Marceau’s body was found, also pleaded not guilty to murder in three separate forms — intentional or knowing or depraved indifference — as well as felony murder, murder, and robbery, all related to Marceau’s death.

Two men to be sentenced Monday in beating death of Augusta man

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Damik ‘Doughboy’ Davis and Michael ‘Dirty’ Sean McQuade both blamed a third man, Aubrey Armstrong, for the killing of Joseph Marceau.

AUGUSTA — Two more men are to be sentenced Monday in the Nov. 23, 2015, drug-related bludgeoning death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta.

The hearing is set for 1 p.m. at the Capital Judicial Center.

Damik “Doughboy” Davis, 28, of Queens, New York, and Michael “Dirty” Sean McQuade, 47, of Augusta, pleaded guilty 11 months ago to felony murder and robbery in the Augusta killing and signed agreements with the state that spelled out their sentencing parameters.

The agreements said they would cooperate with prosecution of others in the case.

A third man, Aubrey Armstrong, 29, of Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, was sentenced on July 13 to 30 years in prison for felony murder and a concurrent 29 years for the robbery.

Under Maine law, a person is guilty of felony murder if he or she commits or attempts to commit a felony – murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, gross sexual assault, or escape – and this causes the death of another person.

Justice Daniel Billings said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Armstrong personally of carrying out the murder.

It is not clear who administered the fatal blows to 31-year-old Marceau in the trash-strewn, fourth-floor apartment on Washington Street from which McQuade and his girlfriend Zina Fritze had been evicted. Fritze committed suicide in jail a day after pleading not guilty to the murder charge.

Davis and McQuade blamed Armstrong for the fatal beating. Armstrong did not testify at his trial.

Billings unsealed the two cooperation agreements Friday. The agreements, signed Aug. 22, 2017, say that the murder charges against Davis and McQuade will be dismissed when they are sentenced on the felony murder and robbery charges.

Davis agreed to a sentence of 30 years – 10 years suspended. He was not called to testify at Armstrong’s trial.

McQuade, who testified at Armstrong’s trial and said he saw Armstrong beat Marceau to death, agreed to a sentence of 25 years, with 10-15 years suspended.

McQuade also is to be sentenced on a series of burglary, theft and burglary of a motor vehicle charges to which he previously pleaded no contest.

McQuade testified that Armstrong wanted to rob Marceau of 5 grams of heroin and that McQuade and Fritze accompanied Davis, Armstrong and Marceau to the apartment.

He said he saw Marceau standing with his back to the entry door and Armstrong and Davis facing him.

“Immediately a milk bottle came smashing down across Joe’s head,” McQuade testified. “It was like a nanosecond, then Doughboy came smashing down with a chair across his head.”

McQuade said during the first 10 seconds Marceau hollered for them to “just take it,” meaning the drugs, but the beating didn’t stop.

 

Two more men sentenced in 2015 murder case

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) – Two more men were sentenced Monday for their involvement in the 2015 murder of Joseph Marceau

.Michael “Dirty” Sean McQuade received 12 years in jail for his guilty plea of felony murder and robbery.

Damik “Doughboy” Davis got 20 years behind bars on the same charges.

The sentences were reduced due to cooperation in the investigation from both individuals.

Maine Assistant Attorney General John Alsop says there were no surprises, as they reached deals beforehand.

“Both cases – these outcomes were something that we agreed upon some time ago,” says Alsop. “Both of these gentlemen agreed to cooperate and testify against Mr. Armstrong.”

The defense teams were also satisfied with the deals reached.

“I think that Michael McQuade realized that this is a terrible tragedy and has taken responsibility for that, so I think it’s been good that there’s been closure for both him and the family,” says Andrew Wright, McQuade’s defense attorney.

“Mr. Davis received a 20 year sentence,” says Stephen Smith, Davis’ defense attorney. “We’re pleased with the outcome. It was a negotiated outcome.”

Aubrey Armstrong was given 30 years in jail earlier this month for his role in the murder.

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