A homeless man arraigned Tuesday in the death of another homeless man beat his victim severely enough to cause massive damage to his neck and skull, a Suffolk County prosecutor said in court.
Thomas Lamartina, 30, picked up a stone paver from the ground and beat Nicholas MacQueen, 65, to death June 27 or June 28 in Patchogue, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said.
Lamartina's court-appointed attorney, Craig E. McElwee of Hauppauge, entered a not guilty plea on the second-degree murder charge. Lamartina was arrested early Monday.
Suffolk District Court Judge G. Ann Spelman at First District Court in Central Islip held Lamartina with no bail or bond. Biancavilla said Lamartina admitted to committing the crime in an interview with Suffolk County police.
He said MacQueen suffered "numerous blows" that caused his death.
Prosecutors did not reveal a motive Tuesday or say how the two men knew each other.
McElwee said Lamartina was arrested after he and a girlfriend had a disagreement after midnight on Monday. The girlfriend called police and reported the disagreement -- and the homicide, McElwee said.
"The information I had was that they were two individuals who were recently homeless and got into some type of verbal dispute," McElwee said.
Lamartina was charged with harassment after the dispute with his girlfriend. Spelman gave him a $100 cash bail or $100 bond on that charge. He is due back in court Aug. 7.
According to a preliminary interview with probation officers, Lamartina has a history of depression and bipolar disorder, McElwee said.
Court papers show the killing took place sometime between 7 p.m. June 27 and 1:55 p.m. June 28.
Authorities said MacQueen's body was found outside a church building housing the Emanuel Lutheran School on East Main Street just before 2 p.m. June 28, a Saturday.
Lamartina's DNA was found at the crime scene, Biancavilla told the court.
A parishioner said he found MacQueen's body outside the church while he was preparing for Sunday services and the weekly soup kitchen.
Lamartina's arrest record includes convictions for larceny and attempted burglary dating to 2006, court records show.
Lamartina also had a pending larceny case from a Feb. 15 arrest. MacQueen was reportedly a Vietnam veteran.