November 15, 2012

Former Gardiner man tells Calif. jury he loaned gun to murder suspect

Robby Beasley, 32. formerly of Augusta and Gardiner, is accused of murdering Frank and Yvette Maddox, of Augusta, on a California roadside in January 2010

BY ELIZABETH LARSON, Special to the Kennebec Journal

LAKEPORT, Calif. -- A former Gardiner resident testified Wednesday that he loaned Robby Beasley the 9 mm handgun he allegedly used to shoot an Augusta, Maine couple several times in the head before dragging their bodies down a roadside embankment.

Elijah Bae McKay, 30, said he fired Frank and Yvette Maddox from his marijuana-growing operation weeks before the couple was shot along the side of Morgan Valley Road in January 2010.

Beasley, 32, who attended Gardiner, Maine-area schools with McKay and previously lived in Augusta, is on trial for double murder in Lake County.

McKay, an alleged accomplice in the murders, took the stand Wednesday as testimony at Beasley's trial continued.

The prosecution asserts that Beasley killed the couple because he believed they stole marijuana from him after he brought them west to work for him.

McKay, who is not scheduled for trial, is alleged to have loaned Beasley the 9-mm handgun that the prosecution says he used to shoot each of the Maddoxes twice in the head. McKay also is alleged to have helped Beasley get rid of clothing and his cellphone and move the Maddoxes' pickup.

Also taking the stand Wednesday was Thomas Gill, the forensic pathologist who performed autopsies on the decomposed bodies of the couple.

Before testimony started Wednesday morning, prosecutor Art Grothe, defense attorney Stephen Carter and Judge Andrew Blum went over evidence issues -- in particular, Carter's request to exclude testimony about Beasley holding his finger to his lips to McKay while they were being held by police, and Beasley scratching on his cell wall that McKay was a snitch, among other things.

Wednesday McKay testified he kept the 9-mm handgun he said he loaned Beasley under a shed in his marijuana garden.

Under questioning from defense attorney Carter, McKay said he had two 15-clip magazines and a holster with the handgun, which he said he and Beasley had practiced shooting in the marijuana garden.

Carter had McKay draw a picture of the handgun, which he said he last saw after October 2009. McKay said he had a Glock and a Ruger, both of which are now in law enforcement custody.

He went to New York in late September 2009 for a fishing trip and had Beasley oversee his garden while he was gone, paying him with a pound of marijuana for the work.

The Maddoxes and four others were working in the garden, and a few days after he returned McKay said, he fired the couple, who were bickering with other workers and demanding money for work they didn't do.

He said the couple "didn't make a good impression right from the start."

After Beasley allegedly shot the couple in early 2010, McKay said, it was "too hot out here" to sell his marijuana in Lake County, so he mailed several pounds to Atlanta, where a contact put him in touch with a man who escorted him around the city to sell the marijuana.

The escort turned out to be an informant who McKay said stole 3 pounds of marijuana, valued at $3,200 a pound, and $12,000 in cash, from him.

McKay was arrested while he was in Atlanta.

Also during his afternoon testimony, McKay recounted that the Maddoxes had stayed in a tent in his marijuana garden while working for him. He said he required trimmers to come and stay for a week at a time to avoid a lot of traffic in and out of the garden.

He said that several days after he fired them, he paid the Maddoxes $3,200 -- $200 per pound for the 10 pounds they trimmed and $1,200 for working while he was gone to New York.

The Maddoxes were shot on Jan. 22, 2010. They were found by two passersby on March 4 that year. Sheriff's officials at the time reported that the bodies were partially decomposed.

Pathologist Gill testified Frank Maddox had two gunshot wounds to the head as well as a non-fatal one to the thigh.

Yvette Maddox's skull was badly fragmented and Gill said he requested that forensic anthropologist Alison Galloway of University of California, Santa Cruz, examine it.

Galloway testified last week the skull was in a few dozen pieces when she received it from Lake County Sheriff's evidence technicians. Once she pieced it back together, she concluded there had been two bullet wounds.

Under Carter's cross-examination, Gill said he had no doubt that the husband and wife died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head. While Gill said he could not tell the time between the shots, he said it would have been less than an hour from the time the Maddoxes were shot until their time of deaths.

Elizabeth Larson, editor of the Lake County News, is a correspondent for the Kennebec Journal. She can be reached at elarson@lakeconews.com.

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