ALFRED — The family of an Old Orchard Beach man accused of killing his grandmother is standing by him, the suspect’s lawyer said Tuesday.

Derek Poulin, 23, faces arson and murder charges. He is accused of slaying 61-year-old Patricia Noel and setting a fire in the bedroom where her body was found by firefighters. He made his initial appearance in the case in York County Superior Court on Tuesday.

“His family is standing behind him. His father, who lost his mother and who is now in the process of losing contact with his son, is behind his son, supports him 100 percent and does not feel that these charges have any basis in fact,” Robert LeBrasseur, Poulin’s court-appointed attorney, said after the proceeding.

According to a police affidavit, Noel died from multiple blunt impact injuries to the head, skull fractures and multiple stab wounds. Police found a golf club handle and shaft, a golf club head, a wrench and a knife with a 3-inch blade in the shower of a bathroom connected to the bedroom where the body was found. Firefighters discovered her body last week after responding to a fire at the Wesley Avenue home she shared with Poulin and his father, Reginald Poulin.

A police affidavit stated that in the weeks before her death, Noel, a second-shift medical records processor at Maine Medical Center, described being physically and emotionally abused by her grandson. She told her daughter that Poulin had been disrespectful toward her, called her names, blew cigarette smoke in her face and had “gotten physical,” according to the document. She apparently wrote letters that were discovered in the house, describing Poulin’s actions toward her.

LeBrasseur criticized the affidavit, saying it lacked facts to support its conclusions.

“The allegations of domestic violence between the two of them — if you read over the probable cause affidavit — you’ll see it was the grandmother who slapped Derek. And there’s nothing indicating he ever physically attacked her other than a conclusory statement,” he said.

At the brief court proceeding on Tuesday morning, Poulin entered the courtroom and stood next to his lawyer by the witness box near the judge’s bench, where it was difficult to see his face.

He was dressed in a large white button-down shirt, baggy denim pants and white sneakers. A chain for his shackles was visible around his waist.

Poulin was not required to enter pleas to the charges. Instead, Justice Paul Fritzsche told Poulin the charges against him and the penalties for those crimes: 25 years to life for murder and up to 30 years for arson.

Someone called out, “Love you, D,” as Poulin was led out of the courtroom.

According to the affidavit, Noel’s daughter, Darcy Daniels, told police that her mother was upset that Poulin was not contributing to the household and complained about his unemployment and lack of motivation. Daniels also told police that her mother said she slapped Poulin’s face during an altercation, the document stated.

Daniels, reached by telephone after the court proceeding, said the situation was overwhelming.

“I don’t know what to think. I’m just very confused — and I miss my mom,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.

Daniels said she didn’t think her mother was afraid of Poulin.

“My brother never thought she was,” Daniels said. “She never said she was afraid.”

Daniels said she believes her mother, who kept a journal, wrote the letters to herself. Two were found in the kitchen and five were found ripped up in the bedroom where her body was found, according to the affidavit.

Daniels said Reginald Poulin, who was staying with her, did not wish to comment.

LeBrasseur said Derek Poulin has no criminal history. He has no adult criminal record listed in Maine.

“He’s heartbroken,” LeBrasseur said. “He’s lost his grandmother, and now he’s being accused of engaging in this conduct. It’s really torn him up.”

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

Twitter: AnnKimPPH