Man accused of killing son nearly 38 years ago pleads not guilty
PORTLAND (WGME) -- The man charged with murder decades after the death of his infant son pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.
A grand jury indicted Burton Hagar last week.
Wednesday he faced a judge for the nearly 38-year-old crime.
This is the oldest "cold case" state police say they've resolved, but prosecutors are tight lipped about what new evidence led to this murder charge.
They say it will all come out at a future date and they're confident they'll be able to prove their case.
Burton Hagar made his first court appearance nearly 38 years after prosecutors say he killed his 4-month-old son, Nathan. The 62-year-old showed no emotion as he pleaded not guilty to murder.
State police say Nathan was found unresponsive in the family's Brunswick apartment in 1979 and initially believed to have died from SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Prosecutors say the case was quietly re-opened by state police in 1991 and with the help of the Unsolved Homicide Unit over the past year, new evidence was brought to light.
Defense Attorney Verne Paradie says it's unusual to see charges like these after so much time has passed. He's not aware of the evidence in the case; he says Hagar, who's on disability and has another minor child, is distraught.
“He's obviously having to relive the death of his small child 39 years ago. I’m sure which was traumatizing in itself,” Paradie said.
Hagar is being held without bail pending a hearing.
That hasn't been scheduled yet, but his attorney says since Hagar has no criminal history, he may have a shot at being released.