Homeless man pleads not guilty in beating death

Thomas Lamartina, 30, has been arrested and charged Thomas Lamartina, 30, has been arrested and charged with killing a homeless man outside a church soup kitchen last month in Patchogue, Suffolk County police said, Monday, July 21, 2014. Lamartina is also homeless, police said.

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A homeless man pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment that accuses him of bashing another homeless man to death with a stone paver while they waited for a Patchogue church to open so they could get food.

Thomas Lamartina, 30, is charged with second-degree murder in the June 28 death of Nicholas MacQueen, 65. State Supreme Court Justice William Condon ordered him held without bail.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said MacQueen's head injuries -- particularly one blow to the base of the skull -- were so severe they were more commonly seen in automobile accidents. She said the murder weapon was a 12-by-12-inch paver Lamartina found on the ground.

She said Lamartina gave a full confession after he was arrested in July, explaining to police on videotape that he argued with MacQueen after they slept outside the church. She said Lamartina's DNA was found in blood and on a beer can found at the crime scene, outside the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Patchogue. His prescription medicine was also found there, she said.

Both Newcombe and defense attorney Craig McElwee declined to describe the argument that preceded the attack. Newcombe said Lamartina told police he had known MacQueen for a couple of months.

McElwee said there is "a viable defense" to the charge, although he declined to say what it would be.

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Lamartina has a history of depression and bipolar disorder, McElwee said previously.

He also faces a charge of harassment of his girlfriend and has an earlier conviction of third-degree burglary.

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