A Portland man charged with killing another man at the Forest Avenue YMCA last week briefly appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, but officials remained silent about the details of the slaying.

Robert Lancaster Photo courtesy Cumberland County Jail

Robert Lancaster, 49, did not enter a plea and spent only a few moments in court before corrections officers whisked him back to Cumberland County Jail, where he has been held since police arrested him Friday. The defense did not contest the prosecution’s suggested cash bail of $500,000.

Police say they responded to an assault at 70 Forest Ave. shortly after midnight on Friday and found 60-year-old David Hannauer unconscious and suffering from “serious injuries.” Lancaster was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. After Hannauer died Saturday afternoon and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide, detectives charged Lancaster with depraved indifference murder.

Officials have not shared more details about the assault, including Hannauer’s cause of death and whether they believe Lancaster had a motive to hurt him. A police spokesperson Tuesday said he could not answer questions about an active investigation.

An affidavit that could contain more details about what happened Friday will remain sealed until Lancaster is indicted by a grand jury and arraigned, according to a spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Attorney General. A date for his arraignment has not yet been set.

Little is known about either the victim or alleged killer. YMCA executives said in a statement Tuesday that Hannauer lived in the YMCA’s men’s dormitory program and that staff were on scene to call 911 and provide aid after the assault. It’s not clear if Lancaster also lived at the dorm, but it was his latest address, according to the state identification bureau. YMCA leaders did not respond to multiple questions Tuesday about the attack, the men involved, and the association’s housing program.

According to the YMCA’s website, the men’s dormitory program partnered with “city officials and other social service agencies” to serve more than 200 people last year. Every man who stays in the dorms must pass a background check.

Lancaster’s criminal record in Maine dates back more than 20 years and includes charges for operating under the influence, domestic violence assault, and burglary across several counties. He most recently pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing in Portland in March 2020.

Hannauer’s slaying is the first homicide in Portland since last February, when Jonathan Alas, 27, allegedly stabbed his neighbor Christopher Godin multiple times in their apartment building. Alas pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in April.

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