LAKEPORT, Calif. — A former Augusta, Maine, man probably will spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury here on Thursday found him guilty of the first-degree murder of a Maine couple because of a drug dispute.

The jury deliberated more than five hours before finding Robby Beasley guilty on all counts, including two murder charges. The verdict was announced just after 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Beasley, 32, also was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and special allegations of committing multiple murders in the first or second degree, committing the offense with the intent to inflict great bodily injury and use of a firearm.

Beasley’s grandmother, Charlotte Beasley, of Richmond, was at work Thursday night when she learned of the verdict.

“He told me he wasn’t guilty,” she said in an interview. “For two years he’s told me he’s innocent, and I believed him.”

Beasley faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8, according to The Record-Bee newspaper in California.

According to authorities, Beasley killed Frank and Yvette Maddox, of Augusta, on Jan. 22, 2010, alongside Morgan Valley Road and near Lower Lake.

Beasley did not take the stand during the trial. His co-defendant in the case, former Gardiner Area High School wrestling standout Elijah Bae McKay, 30, did testify. McKay grew up with Beasley in Maine and helped him start in the marijuana growing trade in California.

The prosecution claimed Beasley killed the Maddoxes after they stole some of his marijuana.

McKay so far has not been scheduled for trial, although he faces the same charges and is alleged to have provided Beasley with the 9 mm handgun he used to shoot the Maddoxes and helped destroy evidence afterward.

McKay’s grandfather, Clarence McKay, who lives in Maine, declined to comment on Beasley’s conviction late Thursday.

Charlotte Beasley said she had hoped to go to California for the trial but was unable to pay for the trip.

She said her grandson has continued to assure her of his innocence throughout the two-plus years he has been in custody in Clear Lake, Calif. She said she has prayed for him every day.

“He said, ‘Nana, I don’t need your prayers because I’m innocent,'” she said.

Drugs and murder

The verdict on Thursday concluded the 14th day of the trial, which began in mid-November.

Beasley’s attorney, Stephen Carter, on Wednesday questioned two final witnesses — former sheriff’s detective Tom Andrews and detective Frank Walsh — before closing arguments started.

Carter focused on McKay in his closing arguments, suggesting that it was McKay, and not Beasley, who murdered the couple.

Beasley, believing the Maddoxes had broken into his Lower Lake apartment and stolen marijuana, allegedly tricked the couple into driving him down the remote road, where he shot them.

McKay testified that Beasley had planned to scare the couple into admitting that they had stolen his marijuana, but that the confrontation deteriorated and that after shooting at their feet, and shooting Frank Maddox in the leg, Beasley shot both of them in the head.

After Judge Andrew Blum read jury instructions, prosecutor Art Grothe moved into closing arguments by reviewing the charges against Beasley, explaining to jurors the process of considering the charges, and how to understand malice and the deliberative process on Beasley’s part.

In most trials, at least a few points are in dispute. In this case, he said, the only point of dispute between the prosecution and defense is whether Beasley killed the Maddoxes.

Grothe said McKay brought Beasley from Maine and set him up in marijuana growing. Beasley, in the fall of 2009, invited the Maddoxes to California, where they began working in McKay’s grow operation on Morgan Valley Road.

“In short order, they start causing trouble with the other trimmers” in that operation, Grothe said.

When McKay returned from a fall fishing trip, he told Beasley to get the Maddoxes out of the operation because they were causing trouble. Beasley then had the couple work for him, and they stayed at his Lower Lake apartment, where some of his growing operation was taking place.

At the end of 2009, the couple was involved in a domestic dispute and there were concerns that the police would be called, Grothe said. McKay again warned Beasley about the Maddoxes, who he said were a risk to their operation.

Beasley kicked the Maddoxes out in December 2009. They moved in with Elvin Sikes, who allowed them to use a spare bedroom. About that time, someone broke into Beasley’s Lower Lake apartment, and Grothe said Beasley concluded that it was the couple, based in part on a small footprint that he believed was Yvette Maddox’s.

‘I’m going to hell’

McKay gave Beasley the gun to protect himself from getting ripped off, Grothe said.

Beasley then began talking about killing and burying the couple. McKay suggested that he scare the couple instead, Grothe said.

Grothe said McKay’s attitude was that Beasley had made a mess of killing the couple and that he needed to clean it up himself.

When McKay went to pick Beasley up from Morgan Valley Road, Grothe said Beasley’s first words to him were, “I’m going to hell.” Grothe said Beasley continued obsessing, and was worrying about killing the wrong people.

Beasley’s girlfriend, Kim Van Horn, testified that she visited him in the Lake County Jail, where he wrote on his hand, “Did they find the gun?” Grothe said Beasley assured McKay no one would ever find it.

On the night of the murders, Beasley went to Walmart to buy new cellphones, boxer shorts and Armor All wipes. Surveillance cameras showed him wearing a black leather jacket McKay had given him.

Grothe showed a chart of cellphone calls and texts that showed a flurry of calls between Beasley and McKay after 6:30 p.m. on the day of the murder. It was sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., Grothe argued, that the Maddoxes were killed.

Carter, Beasley’s attorney, said McKay could have killed the Maddoxes.

“I assert to you that there is absolutely another reasonable explanation” than Beasley’s having committed the murders, he said.

Carter said McKay lied in his testimony more than once, pointing to inconsistencies in his statements about where he kept an unregistered 9 mm handgun, which he had said he kept both in the marijuana garden and in his home.

“He lied to you, absolutely lied to you,” Carter told the jury.

Grothe said the Maddoxes were executed brutally in a dispute about 3 pounds of marijuana. “They were killed by their friend, Robby Beasley,” he said.

In his rebuttal, Grothe said the jury needed to look at the evidence, not “wild theories” unsupported by the evidence.

He said minor inconsistencies in testimony because of the fact that nearly three years have elapsed — and peoples’ memories aren’t foolproof after that time — are to be expected.

Back in Maine, Beasley’s heartbroken grandmother struggles to hold onto the hope that her grandson has been convicted wrongly.

“I don’t know what I believe,” she said. “I know I want to believe he wouldn’t do such a thing. I don’t want to believe anyone would do such a thing.”

Elizabeth Larson of the Lake County (Calif.) News also contributed to this story.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

ccrosby@centralmaine.com