Falmouth murder suspect held without bail

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PORTLAND — A transient man who was arrested and charged with a Falmouth murder last week appeared in court Monday for the first time, and was ordered held without bail.

Kenneth Briggs, 27, who last resided in Portland, was also ordered by Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Briggs was arrested Aug. 19 in Biddeford by Maine State Police in connection with the death of 67-year-old Roger Nelsen. Nelsen was found early in the morning on Aug. 15 in the Wal-Mart parking lot on U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth.

According to state police investigators, the two men were former roommates. 

Briggs appeared in court in Portland on Monday, Aug. 22, but did not have to enter a plea on the charge of intentionally or knowingly causing Nelsen’s death. His attorneys, Molly Butler Bailey and Heather Gonzales, reserved the right to ask for a bail reduction if bail is set.

Briggs also pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer for allegedly stealing from Nelson in April. Cash bail of $500 was placed on the theft charge, and Briggs will be allowed to change his plea based on the prosecution’s findings.

Documents surrounding the cases were impounded and will remain sealed unless Briggs is indicted by a Cumberland County grand jury. 

Although prosecutors initially asked the court to impound the documents Aug. 18, Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam was prepared Monday to have the materials released. But Briggs’ attorneys successfully sought to keep the case sealed.

Nelsen was discovered lying in a pool of blood near his pickup truck around 3:45 a.m. on Aug. 15 by a Falmouth Police Department officer conducting a routine building check. Police said he had apparently been stabbed. According to police, Nelsen was able to talk to the officer who discovered him, although details of the conversation were not released.

Nelsen was brought to Maine Medical Center, where he died Aug. 17.

According to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland, Briggs met with state police detectives Friday morning at the Biddeford Police Department, where he was charged before being taken to the Cumberland County Jail.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.